College tuition is expensive and rising

College tuition is probably the two words that students and parents of a teenager find uncomfortable to hear. Why? It involves money, large sum of money. It reminds everyone of the types of costs associated with studying in college. These are the common costs come to mind with college studies:

  • tuition and fees
  • room and board
  • books and supplies
  • transportation
  • personal expenses
  • medical insurance (for foreigners)

These college costs can quickly add up to as much as a purchase of a house or a luxury car. Plus, to make the things more complicated there can be unexpected additional costs (increase in tuitions fees) or loss of income or assets. Affording college tuition thus is difficult for everyone, especially if there is no advance financial planning to cover any of the college expenses.

If you or your parents have not saved the first dollar toward your college tuition, this will mean that you not only have to find time to study but also need time to figure out how to pay all the college bills. When I started my undergraduate studies at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), I did not have much money saved for college. So I afforded my first degree through working long hours and seeking federal financial aid and through scholarships. I recall, in summer and other semester breaks, all I did was work - to save money for the next semester and to pay some portions of the loans from previous semesters. This helped me get through undergraduate college. It was a tremendous challenge to study and find ways to pay for studies. I had to constantly sacrifice to afford college education. Affording college tuition is not easy and it requires financial sacrifices every day.

If you are lucky your parents may have started planning for your college education since you were a little kid. They may have started to add regularly to your college education funds. If this is the case, funding your college education may not be a problem but remember education costs are on the rise. So any advanced planning for affording college expenses need to take into the rising costs.

Those parents who want to send their kids to an average or pricey college usually find a way to pay for the tuition. When necessary, parents consider number of options including taking a loan, selling assets, and taking an extra job to pay for their kids’ college tuition. By the time children become teens, parents who have been planning, have saved something for their children’s college tuition.

If your kids are in elementary school or are younger, time is on your side to better prepare yourself to pay for your kids’ college bills. The financial decisions you make now can help or hurt paying for your children’s college education. If you already don’t have or don’t anticipate in the future having enough cash to cover your kids college bills, it is worth considering setting aside some amount each month toward college bills. Sacrifices you make now will help reducing future debts and worries in your kids’ college years.

If as a parent or student, you have not even saved the first dollar toward college tuition, paying college bills is a huge challenge, particularly when federal and state financial assistance does not cover all of your college bills.

Even if the first tuition bill is one or two years away, there is time to accumulate some cash. As college bills are substantial, the full amount does not have to be saved up in advance. Just as you purchase a house or some other big item you don’t save for paying the entire purchase amount before buying, you don’t need savings for covering all the educational expenses for the four or more years of college in the beginning of the freshman year. Loans, personal savings, grants, student or parent incomes are some of the options to consider for paying for college.

While in college, the bottom line is that if you want to focus more on your education and less on your finances, it makes sense to start planning early for your college finances.

Posted on 2/28/2007
by Raj Singh