As college students are winding down the summer to return to school and the first semester’s tuition due date looms ahead, it’s that time of year for families to sit down and have some financial talks about how the school year will go. When I was in college, my folks helped me out with tuition in addition to the student loans I took out, but that was it. Food outside of my meal plan, entertainment, clothes, groceries, and books were completely up to me. But my folks sat me down well before I went off to school to explain that part to me, and so I worked summer jobs and saved up money for the school year while living at home. I also had part-time jobs each semester to cover the “extras.” Needless to say, there is no right or wrong way to go about it, but different families have different ideas of what parents and the kids should pay for, and it’s definitely a good idea to lay everything out on the table so that everyone is on the same page. Claudia Buck of the Sacramento Bee follows two families and their different strategies for handling college finances in this timely article:
“Two kids, two college tuitions. Add it up: One very big college bill.
For families like John and Ellen Wong of Sacramento, paying for college is no trivial expense. With two teenagers heading to campus this fall, their total annual tab is about $66,000. That’s roughly Ellen’s entire annual salary as a public high school instructor.
“We’ve been saving since they were babies,” said Ellen, who said the couple are determined to get their kids through college without relying on student loans. That’s no easy feat at a time when college tuition is soaring and student debt loads are crushing.”
Click here to see how the family divides school-year finances, and to read Buck’s recommendations for a successful and stress-free financial plan for college students.
The rest of Buck’s article addresses things like budget-keeping, credit cards for college students, and includes helpful sites for students to make a financial plan for their school year. Great article, especially with the issue of student loan debt being such a big deal these days. If you are the parent or relative of a college student, or a student yourself, it is definitely worth a read. As with so many things in life, advance planning is the best way to knock finances out of the park and ensure stability and confidence throughout the semester.