Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How Will We Afford College?

My wife and I have no idea how we'll be able to afford to send our children to college. I imagine many parents have the same concern. Maybe a tuition fairy will reduce the costs or provide assistance? If not, we're fucked. Well, our children are.

Before you start giving me bullshit like we should've saved more money or minimized our debt, you should know we've done both. We've put as much money away for our children's education as we could possibly afford since each was born. Their 529 plans haven't exactly yielded the best results, but the money remains nonetheless. It barely scratches the surface of what we'll owe. And except for the 3% interest on our 15-year home loan, we have no debt. Our credit score floats around 850. Actually, I think this hurts us. We might have a better chance of being awarded financial aid if our credit was in the toilet.

Wanna tell me to work harder or earn more? Go fuck yourself. I've worked at least two jobs at the same time since I graduated high school 30 years ago. Work ethic isn't my problem, believe me. I have no more blood to drain or sweat to perspire. I've sacrificed more life as a working parent - missing ball games, recitals, etc. - than I ever should've. I could've seen my boy swing a bat or my girl kick a soccer ball; instead, I was teaching a class or running a rehearsal. Yes, we made the decision for my wife to be a stay-at-home mom. Should we be penalized for not wanting our children to be raised in daycare because that's the expected standard for our generation? I don't think so.

Look, I have a master's degree. I've taught for 25 years. I'm about maxed out at what this backwards-ass state is willing to pay me to teach kids. You wanna know what that is? Just north of 50K. That's all. What a joke! How many professionals with a master's who've given 25 years to the same career are only making 50K annually? It's pure bullshit. Finished laughing at me? Hope you choked.

Here's the kicker: my son's up first for college. He wants to go to film school at USC. He has good grades but doesn't play the "let's take as many advanced placement courses as possible so I can graduate at the top of my class" game. I hate that fucking game, as a teacher and as a parent. He takes the classes that mean something to his future. He's done the research to see exactly what courses a filmmaker needs. It's not AP Calculus, I assure you. I took that class in high school. Totally worthless.

USC costs 67K each year for out-of-state tuition. Remember how much I earn? Still laughing? It gets better. My wife and I completed the Expected Family Contribution online calculator to determine how much money colleges will expect us to pay out-of-pocket when our first child attends. We filled out an application and provided information about our income and assets. It's a simple formula. They expect us to pay a little over 12K each year. Okay. I accept that. We can do that. I work more than one job, to be fair.

But, wait a minute, USC costs 67K annually. Where does the rest of the money come from? I'm not a math teacher, but I think we'll need to come up with 55K each year. That's more than my base salary teaching high school! Will we get financial aid? I don't think we'll qualify. Not for that much. No way. And what about when my daughter goes to college? Guess what she wants to be? A plastic surgeon. Medical school! I don't even wanna think about those costs.

Yeah, I'm pissed. You know what I've learned? Hard work only pays off if you pick a career the public respects and values. If not, better hope you're born into a rich family or qualify for some serious financial assistance. Otherwise, you're fucked. Well, your children are.

1 comment:

  1. Tom - We were in the same boat when my daughter was applying for college. She was accepted to the US Naval Academy (which would have paid her to go to school, but she would serve a five year commitment after graduation). Due to a medical issue, she is now at a private college in upstate New York for her freshman year. Her choice came down to who would offer her the best financial aid package, which luckily was her second choice. We were able to pay for our EFC from her 529. She is not going to one of the state universities, which although would have been tuition free because of my job, we would have had paid room and board and books. Check with the schools they are most interested in attending and find out what type of financial aid they offer and the average financial aid package. School counselors should be able to give some guidance as well (ours was wonderful!). Good luck! - Kristen