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April 20, 2006

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Yep - people need to keep the ROI in mind. Getting my MBA is rather expensive, but it's expensive because you'll be more than making up for it in your post-MBA career! Think long term!

I am no finance geek, but I subscribe to the "pay yourself first" mantra -- and pay money into the 401K and 529 before doing any expenses. And our family -- inc grandparents, aunts, etc, all does Little Grad (www.littlegrad.com) which gets us rewards from our online shopping. (The latter contribution going into the 529 will get us WAY past the 6K mentioned above...)

TylerT

Some parents really have no idea. My folks went to college in the early 60's, and were well able to finance their education themselves with little or no help from their parents. Since they were willing to help their only child with tuition and expenses, they assumed I'd have it easier than they did.

When they finally checked out what tuition would cost for 4 years at a private university (starting in 1999), they were in for a big shock. They still paid the majority of the "expected contribution", but I still came out with an unhealthy amount of debt. When I married my husband, our combined student loan debt was more than our combined yearly income!

Was it a good investment? Probably, but if I were going to do it again, I would have spent half the money and gone to a state school. As soon as we have kids, we'll be putting money away for their education. When the time comes to select a school, we'll encourage them to consider the cost.

Well, I really don't like the approach that is always taken when it comes to college. I am sorry, but kids need to be working while they are in school, at least part-time. Further, I really don't think that parents should fully fund their children's college expenses. They are of age, and I really want them to be successful, but part of that is developing a good ethic in regards to work, and earning things. They will appreciate college all the more if they have to work for it, more than just earning grades.

This does two things:
1) They can pay for some of their expenses with their work funds, and possibly get some tuition reimbursement.
2) They can get some real work experience under their belt that will certainly help with that all important starting salary when they graduate from college.

For instance, if you are going to school to be a pharmacist, look at becoming a pharmacy technician for one of major pharmacies (Walgreen's, CVS, etc.). You will get first-hand experience in a pharmacy, you will know if you even want to continue down that road, you will receive great tuition reimbursement, and you will have a job lined up already when you graduate. This same thing can apply to IT work (find a helpdesk/tech support job), financial services (bank teller), engineer/architect (draftsman or surveyor), accountant (bookkeeper), etc. Just find an entry-level job in a field relevant to your degree of pursuit, and look for tuition reimbursement benefits.

The pharmacy idea is a goldmine because they will cover most-to-all of your tuition/book expenses if you promise to work for at least two years there when you graduate. It is a built in job recruiting tool!

This way, you do not forgo earning, you develop experience, you lessen your debt obligation, and you are ready to hit the ground running immediately after graduation. Sounds like a win-win-win-win situation.

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