Most people are probably aware that student loan debt is a huge problem for Americans, but how many people really understand the enormity of it? Here are some stats:
According to reports at ticas.org, there is:
- $1.31 trillions in total U.S. student loan debt
- 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt
- Student loan delinquency rate of 11.2%
- Average monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $351
- Median monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $203
Just for comparison, in the last quarter of 2018, the total credit card debt in America was $870 billions!
As a parent with kids in college and high school, I understand very well what parents go through when preparing for their kids’ college education. On the psychological level, there is fear that if I don’t give my kids the best education possible, they will fall down the social ladder. On the practical level, the choice between using our savings for our own retirement or for kid’s college education is a tough one. For some parents, there may be a sense of guilt and failure for not having saved enough.
Well, the good news is that it’s never too late to take actions! Here are some information and strategies that I learned at the conference I attended recently:
- Take a comprehensive approach to estimating the total cost of college. That includes:
- Pre-College expenses – test taking fees, college application fees, college counselling, and maybe college visits.
- College expenses – tuitions, room & board, books
- Post-College expenses – all of the extracurricular activities during the 4 years in college, such as joining a sorority, various clubs, over-sea exchange programs, etc.
- Start looking for scholarships NOW (Google knows a lot), whether your kids are currently in middle school, high school, or even college. There are scholarships for every stage of their educational path. And, don’t ASSUME that your kid wouldn’t qualify if he/she doesn’t have perfect grades or a sport talent.
Most importantly, spend some time with your child, and have a conversation about “what is success to you?” The one thing we want to avoid is chasing college for its name and vanity while piling on huge amount of debts! If your child doesn’t have a clue as to what he/she wants to study or do in the future, maybe a gap year is an option to consider. It would give them the time and opportunity to explore the real world before committing a huge financial investment on a 4-year college education.
I am working on creating some college cost worksheets, so if you have kids in college or going to college, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be sure to send them to you when they are finished.
In the meantime, here are a couple of resources for you:
Scholarship site: Unigo
Winning College Scholarships: https://moneycoachuniversity.com/p/winning-college-scholarships-the-art-of-getting-free-money-for-college
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