By Gregg Cohen, Campus Bound Founder and President
At Campus Bound, we believe that finding a college that ‘fits’ each individual is extremely important. There are 3 core areas to determine if a college will position a student for a successful college journey and beyond. The first two – the academic program and non-academic factors such as size, geography and school culture, tend to get a great deal of attention and discussion. The third, the financial fit, often times does not receive the due diligence it deserves.
Frequently, when meeting with a new Campus Bound client I will ask the questions, “Is cost a factor in the decision of what college you will attend?” and “Have you determined how much you can pay”? The majority of the time I receive a response of “Not really”, “We have a rough idea” or “I feel really good about this week’s lottery numbers!”
There are many reasons that this critical component gets procrastinated and avoided until the last minute. Potentially too late to make a substantial difference:
- The financial commitment is downright scary
- Parents don’t want to disappoint their hard working children and limit their opportunities
- It’s overwhelming when you have to consider your own financial goals as well as the education of younger children
- The opportunities to reduce the cost – such as need-based and merit aid – are not transparent and complicated to determine where the opportunities exist
- Evaluating the ways to pay including financing options are confusing
The college investment is an incredibly unique purchase. For starters, a seventeen-year old has a large say in it. Also, the purchase isn’t tangible like a house. And, there are many elements out of your control that determine the return on the investment. Finally, with financial aid and scholarships available, you don’t really know what the costs are until the very end of the admissions process.
As a result of these factors, it is important to take the time to understand your budget. Have a plan for how you will pay for college before the target college list is finalized. Taking the time up front can enable confidence that the final choices of colleges in the spring of the senior year will not result in overwhelming debt, impact retirement or have other long-term implications. The good news is that there are ways to reduce the cost significantly and so you don’t necessarily need to go by the college’s list price.
Over the last seventeen years, I have been passionate about helping people make strong college choices with the financial considerations in mind. You wouldn’t buy a house or a car without having a budget, and you wouldn’t look in neighborhoods or at dealerships that aren’t viable options…so why do it with college?
So what is the answer? Give us a call or email to set up a simple, FREE, no obligation discussion and we can help you to start assessing your budget, financial aid eligibility and for the rising seniors, and some initial projections on aid from target colleges.
There’s no reason to trap yourself or your student in a financial box; planning can help you to avoid it.