Planning For Collegedirt track date -- Tuesday, September 02, 2003 -- 08:29:16 PM
College planning, from test taking to finances to choosing the right college.This thread is tagged: education
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Yeah, I understand that.
The prepaid locks in todays tuition. So, theoretically, we'll only be paying, say, $25K for Fang! to attend school, incl room and board, as opposed to 70-80K or whatever they're projecting it to be by the time the girls are ready.
I'd like the girls to not have to take out loans, and if they do have to, it's because they're going someplace extraordinary, not just the state university, you know?
But don't the prepaid plans lock you in? If not to specific schools to schools in a state? Are their prepaid plans for private schools? How do they handle admissions? WHat if your kid doesn't qualify--do you get your money back?
No, they don't lock you. If your kid goes out of state, you get the waited average tuition paid directly to that school - it won't cover the whole out-of-state or private tuition, of course, but it would still cover whatever amount you would have paid for your kid to go to, say Univ Maryland. If your kid doesn't qualify (not a worry) you get your money back or can transfer it to another beneficiary.
This week's US News and World Report has a special section on Paying for College
I hope this link works. I have a premium subscription with them and I don't know if this is premium content. It contains a whole batch of articles that discuss exactly the things you guys are talking about.
That might be worth looking at since your girls are so young there's more uncertainty about college costs when they are ready.
But how many parents of young kids can pony up $25K and have it locked away for a decade? If you can do it my hat is off to you and IF--it sounds like there are many advantages.
We found out that the cash value of life insurance is not considered an asset in the FAFSA calculation. Mr. D bought some life insurance on himself when SD was a baby--the thing has been quietly building cash value all along and now there's almost $30K in there that is invisible to the financial aid folks. It was like finding the money under a mattress or something and it will be a huge help funding SD's education.
DTD, there are many ways to fund it, you don't (and we can't) just write two 25K checks today.
We'll be on an extended payment plan, if we do it.
dtd, just wanted to get a word in on loans. I wound up having to take out some loans for undergrad - total around $12K. Obviously, it would have been better to have emerged with no loans at all, but if I had had the choice between attending a state school and graduating debt-free or attending Bryn Mawr and graduating oweing $12K, there would have been no contest at all. My sister's situation with Mount Holyoke was the same.
Lizzie speaks for me, as well. I ended up with about 12K in loans from Mount Holyoke. While I'd certainly rather not have any debt at all, this is not a crushing financial burden - I can easily pay the loans and in fact paid one of them off early. For the experience I had, 12K was totally worth it. By contrast, my sister went to the large flagship university in our home state and ended up with over $20K in loans. Part of that was because of various episodes of irresponsibility, but it's still a lot more money.
$12K is no problem. 30-50K is a problem.
Ex and I just briefly discussed Spawn's education today. We are in general agreement.
- Ideally, a UC.
- In general, we're unwilling to fork out large chunks of money for private schools.
- Unless it's an elite school, and then we agree that it'd have to be a good degree. We'd yank, and hard, if he decided he wants to degree in French Philosophy. Music majoring would be a problem. Not particularly productive degree, but it's his love. So if he got in on the strength of his music, and was going to come out a world-class musician, then yes. Otherwise, he'll have to make a strong case.
Music majors can turn into computer and number geeks after college. My little bro. is making a ton of money designing voicemail/phone systems for businesses. He's got all the work he wants and he plays in a band nights and weekends. His job is flexible enough that he takes 3 weeks off every summer and he and he goes on the road with the band.
Off the top of my head I can think of a half dozen music majors that are doing very well.
Studying music isn't a problem--it's only a problem if somebody tries to make a living as a musician.
Something to think about: If you have a smart kid with good test scores who will be a junior next year, it's probably a good idea to have them take the old SAT and lock in a score before the new content kicks in.
The new format will add more advanced math (through trig), make the math more straightforward, and add an essay. Analogies: gone. Grammar: beefed up. Reading passages will be shorter, I've heard, but am not sure.
The purpose of the new SAT is, essentially, to try and wipe out the gap between minority and white students, at the demands of the UC system.
Stop laughing. They can dream, can't they?
Schools are even now eliminating vocabulary and reading, while beefing up their writing--the idea, of course, is to get kids who aren't terribly bright to be able to kick out straightforward essays that will pass the rigid reading test that doesn't reward much of anything save strict conformity to the rules. Thus a pedestrian essay and an excellent one will receive the same score.
It's an ugly world. I don't think it will achieve what they are hoping for. Fundamentally, they are turning the SAT into the ACT, and the racial gap doesn't disappear in the ACT. What the ACT does is reward the kids who aren't particularly good problem solvers, but are smart. So your bright underachiever will suffer in comparison. They will still do well, but it won't play as much to their strengths, I'm speculating.
The irony is that the SAT was supposed to test sheer brain power, test the things that kids could acquire naturally on their own, and to eliminate the advantage of advanced classes. But since that didn't give them the results, they are now trying to fix it so you can stuff desired populations with rote knowledge and have them churn it out on a test.
Ah, well. Anyway--I intend to have Spawn take the old format SAT if at all possible, which probably means prepping him for it as a junior. Many of you may want to plan for that as well.
The SAT II gives them 20 minutes, so it will probably be around that time frame.
Sunny, Emma is fine. The only ones that have a choice, I think, are sophomores like Spawn and (I think) Shawi's daughter.
Hmm, #3 is a junior, so I'm guessing she'll get the old one. But either way, I don't think she'll do well -- she's very bright, especially in Math and any science-related classes, but performs abysmally on any standardized test. It's really discouraging for her, too.
DWW, I posted a description that you might want to check out on different types of kids and standardized tests. Where did I put that?
SD is a sophomore Cal. She works very hard, is very disciplined, gets excellent grades and performs horribly on standardized tests.
She failed the state standard in writing as a 7th grader--10th grade is the next round of state tests so I don't know if that was a fluke or if she's got a problem. Her grades in English are fine, and she can pop out a perfect little AP essay in whatever the alloted time in her timed write sessions.
Based on your advice she should definitely take the ACT, but she's also got to get through the PSAT and the SAT. She sounds like the kind of kid that could really benefit from a prep class--should we bite the bullet and sign her up? If so, when?
The probability is that she will be applying to and will prefer to attend a UC school with UW as a safety. Her cousins all attend UCLA so I suspect she'll gravitate to that, and there will be lots of pressure from her mom's family to do so. What should we be doing now to get her the best shot at getting admitted to one of the UC schools--specifically Berkeley or UCLA?
Dirt, if she's a sophomore, she'll have more chance if she takes the new test. The PSAT will probably still be on the old format, which means that she won't have a chance for National Merit Finalist if she doesn't do well.
She will need really excellent scores for UCLA, unless she's going to rely on minority status (which isn't a bad idea, if she can do it).
I would start working with her now. I think Kaplan offers free test days so that you can come in and take an SAT for practice. Have her do that, and see how she does and where her problems are. She can take the PSAT as a sophomore; you might want to have her do that to see how she does--but only if the score doesn't count, and I don't know about that. You should check.