About 4 million babies will be born in the U.S. this year. Naturally, their parents want each of them to enjoy the American dream. Now, more than ever, that dream includes, even depends on a good education beyond high school.
But the dream is unraveling. It’s coming undone as the rising cost of college outpaces all but the wealthiest families’ ability to pay for it.
In 1998, the total cost of a year at a state college or university averaged $10,458. That was 27% of U.S. median household income. Eighteen years later this cost was $24,610, or 42% of median household income. At this rate, freshman year public college expenses for 2017’s newborns will average $33,224 — an astounding 56% of median household income.
Small wonder educational debt for recent college graduates averaged $34,000, or that 44 million Americans owe $1.4 trillion in such debt. Nor is it surprising that, in 2015, there were a million fewer students in college than in 2010; the first ever 5-year drop in our nation’s college enrollment.
How to ensure your child can afford college when he or she is ready to attend? It won’t be simple, and it won’t be easy. But a College Finance Plan (CFP) can help.
A CFP is like a mortgage — a decades-long undertaking. You (the parent) and your student (son or daughter) are its key players. It involves nothing exotic or fancy; just strategies to be adopted before, during, and after actual college enrollment. You’ll want to start implementing these strategies as early as you can, and stick to them.
A CFP won’t make college free, or even inexpensive. But collectively, its strategies can help make college costs more manageable so your student can access the best possible postsecondary education.
Want a quick look at strategies you should consider for the “Before College” phase? See Before College: Strategies for Your College Finance Plan. A review of “During College” strategies will be posted on this website October 2, and “After College” strategies will be outlined here October 9. You’ll also find more in-depth discussions of individual strategies here through the end of academic year 2017-18.
No matter where you and your student are in the college-going process, itake concrete steps to keep the cost of a postsecondary degree within your means. Start building your CFP now!
Got questions about college costs and how to deal with them? Contact College Affordability Solutions at (512) 366-5354 or firstname.lastname@example.org for help at no charge.