MSN Money lists thoughts on how to graduate college with zero debt. The keys:
- Early graduation is a big money-saver. Test out of classes if you can. Attend summer session. Investigate dual enrollment in high school and community college. Also: Seek colleges with three-year bachelor's degree programs.
- Pick a solid school that's also affordable. Consider two years of community college (but make sure all the credits will transfer).
- Tuition is a bill, so pay it -- but not all at once. Expect your kids to pay most of it.
- You can work while in school. Organization is key. Also: "True Blood" marathons are not the college experience; they are an indulgence that you may not be able to afford right now.
My thoughts on these:
- Overall, GREAT tips! Using them can save people thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars on college costs.
- My kids are on track to be able to take some college classes while in high school. They are going to be able to do this because they are taking some high school classes while in middle school (and thus will have the time later to take college courses.)
- I like the idea of a three-year bachelor's degree versus a four-year one (assuming employers treat it the same.) By going three versus four years you lope off 1/4 (or so) of costs right away. Cool!
- I've always said to pick a "good" school (not the most expensive) that gets you to where you want to go (and be employed.) No reason to pay $45,000-a-year in tuition when a $20,000-a-year college gets you the same starting job.
- I don't expect my kids to pay most of their college costs -- unless you count scholarships they receive off "list price". (In that case, I'm counting on at least one of my kids doing enough to save me a bundle. If both do, I'd be ecstatic!) The rule-of-thumb is 1/3, 1/3, and 1/3 when paying for college: 1/3 is paid from savings, 1/3 from current income, and 1/3 from loans for the student (this is after scholarships, of course.) My plan is 100% from savings. We'll see how that goes. ;-)
- Yes, I expect my kids to work to help pay for school. Certainly leading up to college (my son is already making a good income refereeing soccer games) and during the summers, but probably at least a bit while in school too.
- I want the kids to have fun in college too, but they are going to have to pick and choose what they do (kinda like us "grown-ups" have to.) They'll need to manage/control their spending to make sure they can participate in those activities that are most important to them.