It’s Never Too Early! Start Creating Your Financial Future Now!

Erasing Debt on a ChalkboardI am the ultimate warning to ANY college student or college graduate!

The big news story over the past few years has been about the student loan debt crisis and how so many college students are graduating in the red.

Well, I was not one of those students, because I was fortunate enough to graduate from college DEBT FREE with $10,000 in the bank! Most college students would look at me as the “one who made it!”, but they would have to understand that life doesn’t end at college graduation, but it is actually just starting!

Life started happening to me fast and not long after graduation I married my high school sweetheart. Shortly after we said “I do” I found out that he had $25,000 in student loan debt for just one year of college!

This number took my breath away because the entire time that we were in college I thought he was there on a basketball scholarship, but come to find out that the basketball coach convinced his parents to pay for the first year and that his scholarship would pick up the next three. There was one problem with that plan, the college cost $25K+ a year!

We were already married so I told him that was “his” student loan which meant “his” money needed to pay the bill each month. We had already been married a month so it was time to build us a house! Not just any house, but I built us a house that was bigger than both of our parent’s homes combined.

I had fallen quickly into the microwave generation where I had to have everything my parents had right now! I convinced myself and my new husband that it made sense for us to move out of our $750 a month apartment with all utilities into a $1500 a month home where will pay ALL the utilities and trash pick-up!

We moved into the house and within the first year my husband’s car began to need repairs. Since we are part of the microwave generation, instead of getting it fixed, we traded it in for a brand new $23,000 Chrysler 300!

As we were driving our brand new car off the lot I let my husband know again that it was “his” car which meant “his” money would pay for it! I still had not grasp what the preacher meant when he said “now you are one”, because that also meant “OUR” debt.

So to recap I graduated college debt free with $10,000 in the bank and within a few years I was more than $48K in the hole! I’m not going to lie I would have kept going further into debt because as long as the bills were being paid I thought we were fine.

We were not fine, life changed quickly and I was laid off from my job. Now I was $48K in debt, income cut in half, and we had a one year old at home! That’s when we woke up and took the necessary steps to get out of that debt in 2 1/2 years!

I now show college students all over the country those same steps and principles so that they can avoid the debt nightmare that I found myself in!

This post was provided by Ja’Net Adams, a Professional Speaker at DreamGirl, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College,” on May 3rd 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Images Money

Where to Save for College? Part 2

Putting money in a piggy bank529 Plan, Stocks , Mutual Funds, UTMA, UGMA, Coverdell, Roth IRA, Cash Value Life Insurance… How do you decide which savings plan or combination of plans are right for you?

There are many components that should be considered in the decision of where to save your valuable college funds. In “Where to Save For College? Part 1”, we discussed how to calculate how much you’ll need to save and the basic (yet key) factors to keep in mind when taking into account different college savings plans.

Most commonly, I hear parents worried about taxation when deciding on their specific savings strategy. Taxation can be a big deal in a good way and a bad way. As an example, 529 Plans have the tax advantage that earnings are not taxed if the money is withdrawn for a qualified education expense. That’s the good taxation. The bad taxation arises if you need some of that money for a non-qualified education expense or if your student decides that higher education is not for them. In either case, you’d have to pay the tax plus a 10% penalty to get access to the money.

Another frequently discussed feature is whether the college money should be in the parent’s name or the child’s name (UGMA or UTMA). The tax decision will depend on the child versus parent’s tax rate, when the money will be accessed and the kiddie tax rules. The other central feature that parents sometimes forget is access to that money. It is essentially the child’s asset and they gain control of it at age 18.

The Roth IRA’s taxation rules allow money to be taxed when earned, but not taxed during accumulation or withdrawal (subject to some limitations). Roth IRA limits contributions and these limits are dictated by family earned income as well as IRS rules (only $5000 per year for an adult under 50).

One lesser known savings vehicle is to save money is cash value in a permanent life insurance policy.  Savings will accumulate tax deferred and, if the policy is designed correctly, are available to being spent… tax-free!  Contributions can be high and money from the cash value in the policy can be accessed for any need (not only college).

When it comes to college savings and funding, a chief element for many familiesmay be whether the savings are visible or invisible to the financial aid calculation. Every family should assess whether it’s possible that they may qualify for need based financial aid, and if they do, then the financial aid visibility becomes all-important.

To give you a clear visual, the chart below compares different savings plans and the possible benefits of each.

Possible Benefits
Guaranteed Growth Tax Deferred Accumulation Tax Free Use for College High Contribution Limits Investment Choices Transferable (beneficiary) No Income Ceiling for Contribution Access to Money Financial Aid Invisible
529 Plans NO YES YES YES Some Limitations YES YES NO NO
Coverdell NO YES YES NO Some Limitations YES YES NO NO
UTMA / UGMA NO NO NO YES YES NO YES NO NO
Stock / Mutual Funds NO NO NO YES YES YES YES YES NO
ROTH IRA NO YES YES NO YES YES NO Some Limitations YES
Permanent Life Insurance YES YES YES YES Some Limitations YES YES YES YES

When we work with a family to design their college savings plan, it typically will include a combination of these different plans. This allows a family to take advantage of the benefits of each, but lessen the disadvantages. Give us a call to help design your unique college savings plan.

Listen to the April 26th College Smart Radio show to understand the pros and cons of different savings plans, so you can determine which savings plan or combination of savings plans will integrate best with your family’s needs.

This post highlights information discussed during our College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Cost of College” April 26th broadcast where Beatrice Schultz and Mark Guthrie discussed the pros and cons of different college savings plans.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Tax advice is not offered by Beatrice Schultz or Westface College Planning. Please consult your tax professional for additional guidance regarding tax related matters.

Photo Credit: Images Money

Where to Save for College? Part 1

Broken Piggy BankWhether you have dreams of sending your newborn child to Harvard, UC Berkeley or San Diego State, you have a lot of savings ahead of you if you plan to foot part of the bill.

You need to come up with a savings plan EARLY – and stick with it for many, many years.

 

Various types of savings plans exist. In fact there are a few specific ones that are commonly adopted by parents to save for college.  Those include:

  • Traditional investment savings accounts.
  • UGMA (uniform guest to a minor’s accounts in their name).
  • UTMA (uniform transfer to a minor’s account in their name).
  • 529 College Savings Plan.
  • Coverdell Education IRAs
  • US Savings Bonds.

But before deciding where to save, the first question most parents ask is “How much do I need to save?”

As an example, let’s calculate how much you need to save for your newborn to afford 4 years at a UC. Today, a UC will run you about $32,000 per year or $130,000 for four years. Tuition cost as well as room and board continually rises about 4-8% per year.  If we assume a 5% inflation, these parents will be faced with a $300,000 to $350,000 college bill when their child reaches 18 years old.

These parents of a newborn would want to stash away $1,000 per month, equaling $12,000 a year (assuming an average 4.5% rate of return over 18 years) to accumulate ~$320,000 to fund that one child’s college education. Wow – that’s a lot of savings and may be overwhelming for many new parents to consider!

So now that we know how much we need to save, the next question is how and where should these funds be saved for the next 18 years?

There are 4 key components that should be considered in the decision of where to save these college funds. Those 4 factors are the savings plan, the investment strategy, having access to your money and the spending plan.

  1. Savings Plan
    1. Should be easy – auto withdrawal.
    2. Flexibility.
    3. Contribution limits.
    4. Outside help – choose a convenient way for family to help.
  2. Investment strategy
    1. Choose your risk and expected return.
    2. How will taxation impact our rate of return (tax now, tax every year, tax later)?
  3. Access to the money
    1. Would you like access to this money during the saving period?
    2. Access if you have an emergency.
    3. Access for a great investment opportunity.
  4. Spending Plan
    1. Spending Plan
      1. Flexibility. Timing.
      2. Do you want to have all your money in a plan that must be used for college funding?

When it comes to college savings and funding, a vital 5th component may be whether the savings are visible or invisible to the financial aid calculation.  Every family should assess whether it is possible that they may qualify for need based financial aid, and if they do, then the 5th component becomes all-important.

Listen to the April 19th College Smart Radio show to start to run the numbers of how much to save and why these 4 or 5 components should be serious considerations for your savings plan.  Listen in to next week’s show to understand the pros and cons of different savings plans, so you can determine which single plan or combination of plans is right for your family.

This post highlights essential information pulled from our College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Cost of College” April 19th broadcast where Beatrice Schultz and Mark Guthrie discussed the factors of where to save for your child’s college fund.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Images of Money

Loan Forgiveness and Income Based Repayment Programs – How Do They Work?

8231671430_e83d55aa51_bFederal Student Loan Options
Currently the federal student loan debt has surpassed the $1.2 trillion dollar mark, and the average student loan borrower is graduating with over $26,000 in student loan debt.  This debt is now accounting for an average monthly payment of $320/month, which is higher than ever.  At the same time, defaulted student loans are also at an all time high of 11%, up from 5.4% in 2001.

Recently a study found that 33 million Americans qualify for student loan forgiveness but are not aware of the various programs that exist and are available to them. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and Income Based Repayment program are the most popular and beneficial programs.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness
This program began in 2007 and was used as a way to benefit those who choose to work in the public sector.  The U.S Government wanted to award those who take up public sector jobs, and created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness(PSLF) program. The program allows anyone working for a local, state or federal organization to qualify for forgiveness on their loan after 120 qualifying payments.  The balance at the end of those 120 months would be completely absolved by the U.S Government.

o Must work in one of the following:

  • Public sector
  • Non profit 501(c)(3)
  • Private non-profit working in certain fields

o Must have DIRECT loans

  • Loans can be consolidated into the Direct Loan program to then qualify for PSLF

o Must be in an Income Based or Income Contingent repayment plan

o Must be a full time employee (30+ hours weekly)

Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Similar to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program was created in an attempt to drive college students into the education profession.  A Teacher may now qualify for principle reduction on their loan between $5,000 and $17,500 dollars.

  • Must have Direct or FFEL loans
  • Must not be in default
  • Must not have had student loans prior to Oct 1st, 1998
  • Must have taught for 5 consecutive full time years at a title 1 school.

Income Based Repayment
The Income Based Repayment (IBR) program probably benefits the greatest number of federal student loan borrowers.  In this repayment, the lender will calculate your federal student loan payment based on your income and family size.  Your loan balance and interest rates are not used to calculate your repayment.  In the IBR you may qualify for a monthly payment of $0.00 which counts as an actual payment on your student loans.  Every year the lender would request updated income documents and recalculate the payment based on your current income levels.  If your income does not rise, your payment will not rise.  At the end of 25 years, any balance remaining on the loan would be erased in the Direct Consolidation program.

  • Any interest that is not paid in the IBR is not capitalized for the first three years
  • Payments as low as zero
  • Payments that take into account your family size and cost of living expenses.

If you think any of the above programs can help you, give your lender a call to request information and get into the programs you qualify for and deserve!

Bio:

Spiros Mitsis graduated with a Bachelors in Finance & Economics from the University of Connecticut.  He is one of the founders of Student Debt Relief whos primary objective is to educate and assist student loan borrowers on the many federal programs available to them, including loan forgiveness.

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This post was provided by Spiros Mitsis of Student Debt Relief, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on December 28th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Chris Potter

Importance of Financial Literacy With Regard to Students and Student Loan Debt

The average student leaves college with $26,000 in debt

The average student leaves college with $26,000 in debt

If you’ve picked up a newspaper in the last five years you’ve no doubt seen concerning headlines detailing the plight of college students and recent grads that are drowning in the massive amount of student loan debt they’ve accumulated.

With the national student loan debt having reached $1.1 trillion, and the average student walking away with a diploma and $26,000 in debt, these shocking numbers are hard to ignore.

Who’s to blame?
Critics blame the ever-increasing costs of college tuition and related expenses for the country’s massive student loan debt, and while there is indeed validity in this argument, the exorbitant price tag on higher education is only a piece of the puzzle. If you dig a little further, you’ll find the problem has much deeper roots: Students in the U.S. are severely deficient in even the most basic financial literacy. This deficiency hinders them from understanding what they’re getting into when they take out loans, and what their options are when they have to pay them back, further compounding their financial burden even after they leave school.

The many incoming and returning college students who are unprepared to successfully manage their finances reflect a continuing trend of financial illiteracy in our nation’s youth that has been consistent over the past decade. A recent report by USA today evidenced this literacy problem with shocking statistics:

“The Treasury Department and Department of Education have teamed the past three years to assess financial literacy in U.S. high schools, and the results haven’t been pretty: the average score of almost 76,900 students in 2010 was 70%,” USA Today reports. “Last year’s testing of about 84,000 students and this years of about 80,000 students were both a point lower: 69%… A biennial survey by Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, conducted from 1997 to 2008, showed high school seniors doing even worse. In 1997, the average score on a 31-question financial literacy exam given as part of the survey was 57.3%. In 2008, the average score was at its lowest ever, 48.3%.”

How does financial literacy directly contribute to the student loan debt problem? When a financially burdened student does not fully understand or is not fully aware of the different repayment options available they will sometimes just terminate payments. After nine months of this, the student defaults on their loans. Defaulted loans can negatively impact credit scores, a financial no-no that can do significant damage far into the future; it can lead to wage garnishments; and if left unresolved for long enough, it can minify Social Security checks.

And these defaults are happening a lot.
Between financial hardship and misunderstanding of the repayment process, more than 7 million borrowers are in default on a federal or private student loan, as reported by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that the proportion of delinquent student loan debt had surpassed that of credit card balances, nationally. Further, an Education Sector study published in 2013 reports that student loan default rates have actually surpassed graduation rates at more than 500 American colleges and universities.

The financial mentality that students have developed where their confusion leads to inaction and/or denial has far-reaching repercussions that extend way beyond their student loan debt and into every aspect of their financial well-being.

This issue and the implications of these numbers becomes increasingly significant when placed within the context of the environment that young adults now face after graduation: a competitive job market, rising personal debt, and a complex, credit-dependent world economy that puts huge pressures on students and graduates to plan and manage their financial future. The big picture repercussions of the nation’s financial literacy deficiency are reflected in correlating statistics found in the 20-29 year old demographic:

$26,000: Average student loan debt for class of 2013 (CNN Money 2013)

$35,200: Average amount of college-related debt for class of 2013 (Fidelity survey of 750 college graduates)

$45,000: Average debt for those 20-29; includes everything from cars to credit cards to student loans to mortgages (PNC financial independence survey, March)

$1,800: Average credit card debt for those 20-29 (PNC financial independence survey, March 2013)

12.4%: Unemployment rate for those 18-29, well above the national rate of 8.2%;  (BLS data, March 2013)

4: States that require at least a one-semester course in personal finance for high school graduation (Council for Economic Education, 2013)

13: States that require a high school course in personal finance (Council for Economic Education, 2013)

60%: 18- to 34 year-olds not keeping a budget (NFCC financial literacy survey, 2012)

81%: College students who underestimate how long it will take to pay off a credit card balance. (Council for Economic Education, 2013)

30%: Amount of income the average 18-24 year puts towards debt repayment (Council for Economic Education, 2013)

What can be done?
Experts say teaching students about what their repayment options are before they take out loans can help reduce debt.

“It comes back to a financial literacy issue and making sure students understand what they’re getting into, how much they’re borrowing and understanding there are different options for them at the end,” says Megan McClean, director of policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

President Barack Obama pledged in a speech in August that the Department of Education will reach out to struggling borrowers by encouraging them to enroll in income-based repayment plans. Of the millions of federal loan borrowers currently in repayment, roughly 10 percent are enrolled in one of these plans, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. When you compare the 10 percent enrollment rate to the number of students going into default, it is clear that these programs are hardly being used to their full advantage, and that is due to the simple fact that students just don’t know about them. It’s imperative that borrowers are getting valuable and up-to-date information about repayment options before they get to the point where they find themselves defaulting. The key is letting students know that these plans exist.

But default rates are only a small part of the financial illiteracy equation. Financial education should start much before the college level, extend much further than the immediate post-graduate level, and cover a much wider base of information than just student loan topics. The level of knowledge needed to understand the principles of student loans, debt, and borrowing evolve from much simpler financial concepts that can be easily introduced, taught and learned at the K-12 level. And according to a Bank of America sponsored poll from Harris Interactive last month, a nearly unanimous 99% of adults now agree that personal finance should be taught in high school.

Several states—including Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri and Utah—have mandated that financial education be included in K-12 curriculum, but in the states where this education is mandated, less than 20 percent of teachers feel competent enough to teach the material, indicating the financial illiteracy issue is not just a student problem.

Shannon Schuyler is the corporate responsibility leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an accounting firm that promotes financial literacy among K-12 students and teachers. Through her company, Schuyler tries to spread the message of the importance of financial literacy and emphasize how it can help individuals lead better lives in the future.  If students understand the financial playing field before choosing a college, they might have a better grasp of the consequences of massive amounts of debt and the effect it can have on their life down the road, like where they are able to live, what type of lifestyle they are able to afford, and even how soon they can get married or start a family.

Again, the numbers can back this up. American Student Assistance, a non-profit organization, conducted a recent survey with shocking results. Nearly three-quarters of students said they’ve put off saving for retirement because of student debt; 43 percent said they’ve delayed starting a family and 27 percent said they found it difficult to buy daily necessities because of loan payments; and close to 70 percent said they were confused about the different loan repayment options.

Financial literacy proponents and experts, Schuyler among them, are confident in the idea that educating students sooner about the cost of college, how much they need to borrow, how to repay loans and what their future earnings may look like could help solve this problem.

Now, more than ever, it is important to encourage financial literacy by empowering our nations’ students with the educational tools and resources necessary to strengthen their understanding of proper money management habits and prepare them for a successful future of financial health.

This post was provided by Rob LaBreche, founder and CEO of iGrad, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on October 19th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Chris Potter

Reputable Degree at Affordable Price

How much school can we afford?

How much school can we afford?

Kids who want to update their parents on the meaning of “sticker shock” can walk them off the car lot and show them the price of a college education.

The average cost for four years at a state school is $89,000, including room, board and books.

A private, four-year college that includes all those trimmings and fraternity costs runs an average of $173,000.

Those numbers bring out the same kind of facial expressions parents made when they went to a Mercedes-Benz or Corvette dealer and “sticker shock” sent them back to the Pinto or Gremlin lot, where they belonged.

It’s the same with deciding a college for your child. The biggest question: How much school can we afford?

If you can afford a Mercedes-level education, have at it. Your child will have as many options as his or her SAT score will allow, but you will be attaching a siphon to your bank account and can expect long streams of money to flow from it.

If you belong on the Pinto or Gremlin lot, join the crowd. The goal here is to get a reputable degree at an affordable price. College is meant to prepare the child for a job, not to rob the parents of their last chance at financial stability.

There are plenty of options for paying for college and even opportunities to upgrade schools if your child has a good test score and grade point average. It will involve difficult decisions and work on everyone’s part.

The two easiest steps toward reducing the cost of college are applying for any and all grants – i.e. money you do not have to pay back – and spending the first two years at a community college.

The grant situation is a curious one for some people. The federal government hands out $41.2 billion in Pell grant money, based strictly on financial need. Schools, civic organizations, endowment funds and others give out another $35 billion in grants, most of them based on merit like straight-A’s, high SAT scores, and great essays.

That’s $76 billion in free money going out, but for some reason, not everyone applies for it. Some families decide ahead of time that either they make too much money or their child isn’t straight-A enough to qualify for a grant. That just makes it easier on those who do apply.

Quick tip: Apply for everything. You don’t know when or where you may qualify for a grant. If you get nothing, you’re no worse off than when you started.

The easiest way to cut costs is to spend the first two years at a community college. The two-year schools are finally getting recognition for the part they play in a college degree, though it’s a grudging recognition. Some students belittle it as “13th and 14th” grade, but if you are not financially able or just not ready for the responsibilities of leaving home, community college is a wonderful landing spot.

An associate degree from most community colleges will ensure admission to most state schools. In other words, there is little difference in spending the first two years at community college, other than the enormous financial gain.

The average cost of community colleges depend on whether you live at home (most students do) and where you live. In California, for example, it’s about $2,800 a year for tuition, fees and books to live with mom and dad.  In Florida, tuition, fees and books run about $3,500, if you’re living at home.

That would be about 20 to 25 percent of the price you would pay for tuition, fees and books at a four-year school with about the same academic result.

There are plenty of other options to make college affordable, but grants and community college are two that should put it within reach of everyone, especially those still suffering sticker shock.

Bill Fay is a writer for Debt.org, focused mainly on news stories about the spending habits of families and government. He spent 21 years in the newspaper business and eight more in television and radio, dealing with college and professional sports, then seven forgettable years writing speeches and marketing materials for a government agency. Bill Fay was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College,” on June 1st, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Tips to Get Four Years Worth of College for the Cost of Three

The average time to get a degree at a four-year college is about five years.

The average time to get a degree at a four-year college is about five years.

We’re conditioned to accept the high cost of a college education as the price to be paid for the economic future we want for ourselves and for our children. But, more than a trillion dollars in student loan debt later, it’s time to rethink the fundamental value proposition of a four-year college education.

Start by considering the point of entry.

Have you driven by a community college lately? If so, you’ve probably noticed how the parking lots are overflowing. That’s because more and more students are commencing their higher educational pursuits locally at schools that charge tuition rates that are on average, less than half that of their four-year counterparts. The key is to ensure that the credits you earn are fully transferable to the four-year school from which you want to attain your baccalaureate degree.

And, when it comes to choosing that four-year school, be sure take a look at the government’s College Affordability and Transparency Center site, which not only provides tuition and fee summaries for the nation’s schools, it also tracks institutional inflation rates. This is really important to know because you’re signing up for two, three or four years, not just one.

Next, consider the extent to which you can test-out of certain core-course requirements. For example, the same fine folks who brought you the SAT exams also offer College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests. There are 33 subject examinations with results that are accepted by more than 2,900 colleges nationwide. And yet, few students are aware of a time and money-saving option that’s been around for more than 40 years. I know because I was one of the first to take these exams! The 12 credits I earned made a meaningful financial difference as I put myself through school.

In addition to the CLEPs, there are also AP tests, SAT subject examinations and a myriad of online courses that can be used to prepare for the course-waiver tests your school may offer.

Also overlooked is the preponderance of needs- and merit-based scholarships and grants. A few semesters ago, one of my students told me about a successful strategy he employed while he was in high school. He targeted every small-dollar scholarship and grant he was able to identify. Sure, it involved lots of letter writing and follow up, but he also knew that his peers were elephant hunting. As such, he encountered less competition for the more than $3,000-worth of awards he was able to garner in the process. I recommend exploring College Scholarships.org and FastWeb in this regard.

My next recommendation is to take a cost-per-credit approach to your semester planning. Many schools price their tuition by differentiating between full- and part-time students. For example, at my university, a full-time student is one who takes 12 to 18 credits per semester, for which he or she is charged a flat-rate. Therefore, on a cost-per-credit basis, a student taking 12 credits is paying 50 percent more than one who is taking 18. As such, I recommend at least one “heavy” semester per year. Doing so, can shave another 9 credits-worth of time and cost. So can taking intersession courses at less expensive colleges near home. Most schools will permit the transfer of a limited number of credits taken off-campus (my university limits that to 6 credits).

And finally, focus on the incidentals—housing, meals and supplies. While many schools mandate on-campus living for freshmen and sometimes, for sophomores as well, off-campus living can be a less expensive alternative. Just be sure to think-through the mechanics. For example, four or six students sharing a two or three-bedroom apartment sounds like a blast until it comes time to pay the rent, utilities and cable/internet bills. You’ll want to ensure that the money’s in the bank ahead of time, especially because mom or dad will likely be asked to co-sign the lease.

As for the meals, when on-campus eating is mandated, I recommend going for the least costly plan to be supplemented by the food you can prepare at home. After all, isn’t this why God invented the mini-fridge? And, as far as textbooks are concerned, explore the option of forming study groups with shared texts. Given the high cost of these books and the fact they seem to be revised every other year, I permit my students to do that.

While I truly believe in the value of higher education, I also believe in the higher value of education that doesn’t cause you to go broke in the process.

Mitch is the author of College Happens: A Practical Handbook for Parents and Students, Life Happens: A Practical Guide to Personal Finance from College to Career-2nd Edition,  Life Happens: A Practical Course on Personal Finance from College to Career and the forthcoming Business Happens: A Practical Guide to Entrepreneurial Finance for Small Businesses and Professional Practices, to be published Summer 2013. © 2013 M.D. Weiss LLC. All rights reserved.

This blog was provided by Mitchell D. Weiss an experienced financial services industry executive and entrepreneur, adjunct professor of finance at the University of Hartford, a member of the board of the university’s Barney School of Business and co-founder of its Center for Personal Financial Responsibility, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on May 11th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: stevendepolo