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3 Costly Myths about Planning for College

Don’t Assume College will work out

College is expensive. Most families just don’t realize how expensive it can become. Making college affordable for each of your children begins with avoiding misconceptions. Part of the problem is that many parents believe the following three college preparation myths.

Myth 1: Planning for college “next year” is soon enough

“My child is only in 7th grade; we can start thinking about college preparation in a couple of years.” The first myth is the belief that the college decision will work out just as well when we start “next year” as opposed to starting today.

Time is a very valuable asset in the college preparation process. Many of the individual processes required for a quality college decision – such as career selection – take both and time guidance to maturate. Developing a solid study habit is a trait that takes time and practice. Acquiring good social judgement takes time and experience as well.  When we wait for “next year” to further the multiple-perspectives required for a superb college decision and college life, we simply cannot make-it-up. An “age-appropriate, child-appropriate” approach throughout all the pre-college years is a proven way to cut costs.

Myth 2: Our Child can make good College Financial Decisions

It often comes as a shock when families realize that the maximum amount in federal student loans that a student who comes from a middle-income family is only $5,500 for the first year of college. Beyond that, loans need to be co-signed by a parent. This may be enough for a student living at home attending a community college or in an apprenticeship program.

However, the cost of tuition at a typical 4-year college runs between $7,000 and $40,000 per year.  How many teenagers do you know have a clear understanding of what $50,000, $100,000 or $200,000 in education expenses over two or four years really means?  Most kids simply do not have a working knowledge of what it feels like to be burdened with debt. Hoping your child will make a smart college financial decision is asking a lot of your teenager.

Avoiding all Myths will save Money & Time

As a rule, don’t expect them to be able to grasp the magnitude and consequences of the financial side of funding college.

Myth 3: Our College-Advisor will take care of it

The last 20 years have seen a rapid rise in the number of college coaches and test preparation offerings. While there is a legitimate place for these, many parents mistakenly think that their hired (and sometimes very expensive) college advisor will assume their responsibility. Let’s be clear: as a parent, you are in the best position to guide your children towards college success.  And you (and perhaps your child) will be the ones paying the bills, not the college advisor. They, or the college of choice, do not offer a satisfaction, money-back guarantee.

Most parents want to be involved proactively in the college preparation process.  We as parents probably were simply not shown how to do it! Nonetheless, as parents, we are the best college-advisors for our children.

About the Author Dija and Robert

Hi and Welcome to the Parents Planning 4 College Family! For years we have been helping families tackle their unique college preparation challenges. We can help reduce your stress and make better quality decisions - and save you a lot of money!

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