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October 29, 2010


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Assuming you can fund or come close to funding college I advise people to take a student loan out every semester. Taking Loans greatly effect the overall quality of your student aid package. Be wise about which loans to choose when you have money take out loans with early payment bonuses ( if you pay it off within 4 months of graduation you get cash back, these aren't as easy to find anymore). Sink your cash on hand into CDs and earn interest. I earned about 1000 doing his over 2 years.

I can't disagree with any of these, though trying to convince someone to stay at home for an extra couple of years to go to community college can be a tough sell if they have their heart set on it. Though, community colleges have really picked it up over the 20 years or so since I've been in that choice, so as they say, it's a whole new ballgame :)

Community colleges are at record enrolements. Beware that this may get watered down with hiring more professor and TA's not qualified to teach the subject.

Also know that a student tranfering from a CC to a university may get all there Liberal Arts classes out of the way but they may be facing hard core subjects that will be a culture shock let alone take an extra year to complete college.

My wife did CC for 2 years and stepped in to hard core teaching classes and no breather classes. A tough adjustment. Sister in law smae thing but straight into heavy duty chemical engineering classes. She took an extra year to complete her degree because she almost flunked out taking to many core classes. A 5 year degree in 6 years

I had people tranfer form CC but were taking 5 to 6 years to complete there degree due to the fact of timing of courses and prerequisites requirement. You need to take class A and pass before taking B before taking C before taking D before taking E. That is 5 semester or 2 1/2 years.

So research wisely because to transfer from a CC may work out or it may require you to go longer and what would be cheaper in the long run?

Taking 5 years to complet a 4 year degree or 4 years for a 4 year degree.

There is a lot of good information in this book that appears to be spot on with an appropriate approach to completing college with little to no debt. HOWEVER, my experience is that very few families have what it takes to follow these guidelines to a tee. Going to college is definitely a financial decision but it is also an emotional one and the emotional factor usually trumps out all the good financial sense provided in the book.

I agree with all this except for the community college route--because if you're aiming at getting a major in many things (engineering, sciences) where you'll be highly employable, you'll need to do all 4 years at the same place to get all the requirements in and/or to get the education you need. Community college 1st year math, chem, and biol courses aren't taught at the same level, unfortunately.

Community colleges are great, however, if the kid needs time to mature and/or remedial work before starting a 4 yr degree program at a bigger school. They may also work well for majors that don't have so many requirements or where the quality of the actual coursework isn't so critical.


"Community college 1st year math, chem, and biol courses aren't taught at the same level, unfortunately."

That's just not true. If a placement test puts you in Calc I at a 4-year school, it will also put you in Calc I at a community college. Most first-year students at CCs don't take Calc I because they test lower . . . and they'd do the same at a 4-year school. Calc I will cover the same material at either place-- the curriculum is largely set by the state in many cases.

I'm a CC math professor and the vast majority of our students test into College Algebra or lower, and many of them aren't even ready for that. These students would not be starting out in higher courses if they went to a 4-year school, and if they did they'd be failing at a very high rate.

I will agree, though, that for some programs-- especially ones like Engineering and Computer Science-- you will not be able to take the first and second year courses you need and will be behind if you wait until your 3rd year to go to a 4-year school. For a lot of majors you would be fine, however, and generally the instruction of basic courses at community colleges is better since we are professional teachers, not researchers who teach because they have to.

With the drop out rates so high and only 2 in 5 students finishing 4 year school completing their degree in 6 years (according to the NY Times) it seems like the kind of level headed analysis provided here for paying for college should be first applied to going at all, and then what's studied once there.

I'm curious FMF, what if your children decide that they want to go to a four year school all along? Or don't want to live at home while in college? Or decide to take out student loans, or otherwise veer from this formula? I mean, college students are adults and don't need parental sign off on any of these things.

My parents had literally zero input on where I went to school or how I paid for it, so while all of the recommendations in this book and the plans that you're laying sound lovely and all, I'm having a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea that your kids will ultimately follow the plan you've laid out so precisely.

Taking some credits at CC may not work out because a lot of Universities and Colleges don't accept credits from CC. Some Universities and Colleges don't accept credits from another 4-year degree program even within the same state university system. Community college may also not be an option with some scholarships and grants.

I think that student loans are being portrayed as evil when they can be a useful tool. The onus is on the parents and student alike to make sure that the amount that is borrowed does not outweigh the earning potential of the degree. Many of the students with an exorbitant debt-load are those who choose to go to an expensive, private college to earn a degree with a moderate (or minimal) earning potential. The other issue is that students graduating from college often don't understand that they can't keep up the lifestyle they are used to having when their parents were paying all their expenses. Make paying off your loan a priority and then it really isn't an issue.

I live in a state where public elementary and secondary education are not a good option, so we are paying private school tuition now. Our income is such that we may not have saved every penny our child will need to go to college. If we need to take out loans to make sure that she can attend college, we will. But we will not be borrowing $100,000 for her to get a degree, regardless of what her major is. There will have to be a very good reason (like a full scholarship) for her not to attend a public university whose tuition and fees will be commensurate with her earning potential once she is finished.


You are correct and part of proper college planning would be checking with admissions at any 4 year schools of interest to make sure your credits will transfer. Many community colleges have agreements or associations with 4-year schools and that results in nearly all credits transferring. The college I work at designs its courses and overall curriculum to match the needs of 4-year schools, so transfers are off to a good start when they leave here.

I generally agree with this guys points but I think he's a little too negative about student loans. Of course thats the whole thesis of his book 'debt-free U'. I think that a small amount of student loans should not be a problem. If you get a decent degree at a decent college then graduating with $10-$20k of debt is not any kind of strain IMHO.

The community colleges in my area of Southern California are excellent. There are articulation agreements that cover either the CSU or UC System, and also some of the private universities. No problem at all with transferring credit. Some of the same professors teach at both the community college and a local 4 year university. The quality of education was great. My child transferred into a 4 yr public university as a junior in their accounting school which is accredited by AACSB - there are only 5 such programs in all of California. Going to community college was in no way a detriment.

Michele --

Yes, they can choose their own way if they like. That's their choice.

On the other hand, my financial support comes with involving me in the decision-making process.

I agree with much of this information, and think it's wise for the most part. I do think that it does in fact matter where a kid goes to school, to some degree. At least to the extent that all other things being equal, a better brand name school gives kids a leg up for job recruiting or grad school admissions as compared to a no-name school. That said, this often (not always) comes at a cost, so one must be very careful in analyzing such opportunties.

I don't understand how a high school student is supposed to earn almost $12,000 a year. Actually, more since this assumes that they spend absolutely none of it and taxes aren't considered.

I was 16 (sophomore) when I got my first job, which was only possible because I was able to drive. Between school and sports, there's no way I could have worked enough hours to make that much money.

I think books like this have some good points, but I also feel like there's a lot of "sounds good on paper" type filler.

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