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Should my daughter attend community college to save money? | The Coaching Educator

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Dear Coaching Educator;

My wife was laid off and has been unable to find a job that has comparable income. My daughter is a good student and got accepted at all the schools she applied to. Should we have her attend our local community college or let her go to another college out of state? I am worried about the cost of college and have 2 more kids in middle and high school.

Dear John;

That is a great question that many parents are facing in this financial climate. It is hard for me to advise you without seeing the financial aid packages. However you can take the packages and compare them including the hidden costs.

    1. Have your daughter call every school’s financial aid office and ask if the scholarships and grants listed will be given each year or just for freshman year? Also she should ask if there are any department scholarships the following years and how can she apply for them?
    2. Understand that “work study” may be written on the package, however it is not guaranteed and many students have a hard time finding a work study position. If you live near enough to the college you can have your daughter find out where the jobs are listed and apply for them before she gets on campus or during orientation.
    3. Add up the full cost of the student loans both subsidized and unsubsidized and multiply that by 4. Do the same with the parent plus loans and sit down and show them to your daughter.

Many financial aid offers appear to be complete awards and they are not. They include the “opportunity” for loans for students and parents. My own children opted to go to schools that gave enough financial aid that they would not have to take out loans and did not require that I take out a parent plus loan. When my son entered his sophomore year he needed to take out a $3700. dollar loan and he chose to live at home to save money. This decision came after we compared his budget and he realized that living at home would allow him to ski and afford his car. Many of his friends that had lived in the dorm their freshman year also chose the same root in order to be able to save money and afford some of the extra curricular activity that they all enjoyed.

Help your daughter make a wise choice by gathering the information and sitting down with the facts. One of those facts should include the decrease in your income due to your wife’s lay off. I have found that most students when given the opportunity to make an informed choice will make the one that saves the most money for themselves and their families.

I hope this helps in your decision making process.

The Coaching Educator

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