Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tales From the College Crypt

I found this image and thought it said some things I've been saying for years.

You CAN get a college degree without debt but it takes some doing and you have to be super motivated.

Which takes us to my post for today.
It's about college and my kids.

Regular readers will remember that we have 2, count 'em 2, kids in college at the moment.
My oldest is a senior and my daughter is a sophmore.

We have/had a set amount of $ for each of our kids for college.
They were/are told how much we will spend on their college and then it's up to them to make the hard choices......
The choice of going to a less pricey school and pay cash and get their degree without debt OR to going to the high priced school and having to take out loans to finish the program.

#1 Son(oldest)chose an in-state public school with on-campus housing and meal plan.  His college fund(along with a small academic scholarship)was enough to cover all his costs, including textbooks.  Covered it all except for incidentals(pizza out, movies, fun money, etc.)which he covered with pay from a part time job.
He's our most sensible child.

As a safety measure in his 3rd year, he took out and got a $1K subsidized loan.  With the steep increase in the school's rates, he was worried about his college funds not quite covering all his bills that year.  After the school's financial aid department used some weird formula to deduct this and that from his loan, he ended up receiving $59 each semester in loans.
Yes, I just said he got FIFTY NINE DOLLARS out of a THOUSAND DOLLAR Loan that was awarded to him.
Obviously somebody somewhere needs to relearn how they do math.

Anyway, he finished his junior year of college with the grand total of $118 in student loans.
This would be ridiculously easy to pay off, right?

We sat down and had the senior year college money talk with him last Spring.
Due to a few other fees we didn't count on(clearances and such as he is going into teaching), and more increases in tuition and other charges, he doesn't have quite enough left in his college fund to finish his last year without paying out of his own pocket-either cash or taking on loans.

If he stayed on campus and on the meal plan for his last year, he would end up using all of what is left in his college fund and need another $5000.
In anticipation of this shortfall, #1 son applied for college loans again and found out in May that he was awarded $7500 worth this time around.
This would be MORE than enough to get him through.....unless financial aid starts yanking some of it and doing voodoo math again.

Living on campus is NOT what he is planning to do.
He got it in his head that he could live cheaper off campus in an apartment and cook for himself.
The real reason is he wants to live with his girlfriend and THAT'S not going to happen in a double dorm room this year.
The GF has a car, so they can live outside of this tiny college town(aka find a cheaper rental)and still get to classes.
With having to pay for gas to get to class I think the savings of living off-campus would be negated by the new transportation costs.
But it's his life, right? ;-)

So they have been actively looking since March for an apt. and let's just say that after 4+ months, it's just not happening.
Until early last month when GF's relatives unexpectedly gave them both a place to live for the school year.
For a very low cost.
So low in fact that now #1 son may not need those loans he took out even if he has to pay/cook his own meals.

You know this can't be the end of the story right? ;-)

So with things looking pretty good for him......seriously, who leaves college with $118 in student loans!?lol........until last month he comes up with a new complication.

GF and he have determined that having 1 car between them is not going to cut it.
#1 son has to student teach each semester this semester in a rural school and the other in an urban school.
Since his college is in a tiny town with no public transportation(outside of the college bus that goes to the Walmart each day), he will need to find a ride for both teaching gigs without being able to ride the bus there.
And GF doesn't think that with her schedule that they can rely on her car to get them to school AND to his assignments outside of town.

Soooooo, #1 son has decided he needs his own car.
And since he has this loan money being applied to his bill(with some leftover too), what is left of his college fund(that he doesn't need for rent and food)can be used to buy a car.
And he will come out of school with a total of $7618 in student debt.
For a car.


So we had a long talk about all this.....but in the end it's his life, his money and his decision.
It doesn't make me happy but he'll be the one who has to live with having to pay this off.
And if it breaks down, he's the one who has to pay to fix it and he has been told as much.
And he is paying for the car insurance as well.
Outside of funding the purchase, we are washing our hands of this car.

Stayed tuned for more developments.............



  1. I know you may scold me for this, but I think his decision makes a bit of sense. Not sure he needs a $7k new-to-him car, but borrowing from his student loans instead of getting a car loan would save him a lot of interest, and give him a bit more time/flexibility to pay it back. Of course, it'd be a lot better no loan, no new car, but if he can score a $3k car and just take that much, pay it promptly and be done with it before he's done with school, it would be a better deal instead of getting a car loan. And the experience he gets from his teaching gigs really is quite necessary and beneficial to his future. Hope it all goes well!

    1. Since it's illegal to borrow money on your student loans to pay for non-educational expenses, he's using the loans for school and the college money we have for him for the car....just so that's straight. ;-)
      I think they could have worked around having 1 car between them but hey!, if he wants to go into debt, it's his life. At least he's not looking at a new car!lol

  2. If he is a your sensible child, I would trust his decision. He seems to have mapped everything out very well. Relax Mom!

    1. He's the most sensible one, but compared to the other 2, he wouldn't have to be very sensible to best
      At least I'll get to sit him down and make him do a budget for the money he has left to live on this school year. If I can keep him from buying $200 concert tickets(don't ask!lol)until he has a real job, this might work.

  3. Our college student stopped needing our advice as soon as she started college. She was an adult! But we weren't funding it. I cringed at her mistakes but didn't fret over them. I think she only took out $1000 student loan, but she did have a car loan.

    1. You just have to trust that what you tried to teach them took hold and they'll do ok, don't you?

      #1 Son has basically left at this point with just this financial tether(college money) holding him to us. Once we hand over the last bit of college money and he takes over the ownership and insurance on the car next Aug. he is flying solo.

      I've always been a hands off kind of mom unless they wanted me to hover for some specific reason. Tried to instill their independence but it's still hard letting that first one go.....sigh


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