Once again as interest rates on student loans are set to go up on July 1st, the college debt crisis is back in the national limelight. I find it so interesting though, that no one seems to speak about solutions to this fast growing problem.
I wrote “Right College, Right Price,” and created the financial fit online course on the collegecountdown.com as a solution to this college debt crisis, literally to demonstrate to families that they could send their son or daughter to college without excessive student debt or parent debt.
To better understand the solution, it is important to understand the contributing aspects of the problem. We know that college costs have risen exponentially and that support from states and the federal government has not kept pace with these increases. We also know that income levels have not increased much and families are just now catching up on the net worth loss between 2005 and 2010.
What most people don’t understand however is that the traditional college search program and the traditional timeline for college selection has exacerbated the problem. The traditional college search program suggests that students should focus on their preferences for college; what size, what location, what major, what extracurricular programs? Once these preferences are established, students research those schools that match the preferences.
Students and parents then apply for financial aid and the cost to them for these schools (their net cost) is provided – usually in March or April of the senior year in high school.
Unfortunately, the process and timeline leaves many families feeling as if they are trapped in the end – choosing an unaffordable college option, one that leads to excessive borrowing.
This process and timeline has been taught for decades by high school counselors and college admissions counselors. It has become “what everyone does” to search, explore, and eventually select colleges.
It is as if the financial aspects of the decision do not exist.
Now it is true that it would be unwise to use cost as a primary variable if one were using sticker price. People don’t pay sticker price…but they do pay net price. Net price is their out of pocket cost when grants and scholarships are subtracted from sticker price.
In the method we teach, a method that suggests that students find the perfect fit; the students searches for colleges that fit him or her in every way; academically, socially, culturally, spiritually, and most of all financially.
If a college is perfect for the student in all the other ways, but is not a financial fit, it is not a prudent choice.
There is a financial fit for every family. The method taught in our book and in our online course teaches families how to find those financial fits.
This post was provided by Frank Palmasani, author of “Right College, Right Price,” and creator of the financial fit online course, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on June 29th, 2013. Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.
Photo Credit: Sewanee