Deciding on a college and the importance of cost

deciding on a collegeMy husband and I never thought about the consequences of school versus price. We encouraged our children to “reach for the stars” and told them “you can be whoever you want to be.” Somehow we always believed there would be a way to afford the school they chose.

In the beginning we thought we had a trust fund we could depend on to pay for tuition and room and board. Hey, the sky’s the limit! However, even when the trust fund disappeared before our eyes we continued to tell our children to forge ahead.

When my eldest son chose Ivy League schools as his first and second choice we did not bat an eyelash. That was his dream and he achieved his accolades to apply to these schools. They were “far reach” schools but nonetheless still held an opportunity for him to attend. Having earned the Donald J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholar award guaranteed him a free ride at our state university but unfortunately my son was not interested. That left two very distinguished schools….one in Pennsylvania and one in Maryland.

As fate goes, he received a rejection letter from his first Ivy League and a wait list for the second. The state university was not even a mentionable so we went to PA to view the school. Coming home disappointed we made plans to look at the school in Maryland, and it was there that history was made. I literally knew in my heart when I first walked on the campus that this was the school for my son, and he felt the same way! It looked right, felt right and that was it. I had no idea how much it would cost either! As I said “sky’s the limit.”

My daughter followed the following year. Again, we encouraged her to pick the schools that interested her. She did not pick any Ivy League schools and after looking at a large campus and a small one, chose the smaller of the two. I was happy with her choice as I believed it was a safe haven. However, after one year and one semester, she decided it was too small and wanted to switch to our state university. My husband and I both wanted her to be happy so we agreed. So she went from a private school that provided very generous grants to a state university that provided none. Those costs for a state school were higher than the private school….go figure!


Understanding College Costs