College choices and the costs after financial aid

cost of collegeMy son’s first choice wasn’t necessary his parent’s first choice but are we glad now he opted the way he did. The difference monetarily between his choice and ours was $45,000 over the course of four years. However, that sum reflects a college aid package which he will receive from his chosen school but wasn’t offered at OUR desired choice. Plus, after aid is applied, additional expenses should be manageable too.

Not only did we have to admit to ourselves that our son was right in this decision and we were wrong (which was hard enough) we also discovered that we (and he) learned a valuable lesson: It’s not necessarily the STICKER PRICE of the college that matters or the price after the financial aid is awarded, but also the remaining out-of-pocket cost after all aid has been given.

With his savings, our contribution, and his willingness to work over long breaks this OTHER sum of money should be lessened to the point of staying even, at least for the first two years. Thankfully we diligently made accurate changes to our FAFSA a few times this year which has had an effect on what is expected of us as parents to contribute. Also, thankfully, we filed the same FAFSA early enough that maybe their warning of-’First-come, first-served”, was heeded and helped in the offering of aid from a few of the schools and lessening “The Other Cost” factor.

The following prices show what happened. In our state, the average cost for tuition and fees at a private college for 2007-08 is $23,712. Once grant and tax benefits are taken into account the average costs drop to $14,000 about the same for a public institute. However our dilemma remained- how do we subsidize the extra $14,000 out of pocket costs after all aid has already been given? Our solution, listen to our son who opted for the public institution. We are thinking his major might just be in the area of economics.


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