How are you handling your teen's college expenses? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 26 Old 07-19-2013, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know, I should have worded this "How are you coaching your child through their college expenses?"

If you have any BTDT advice or are wading through this for the first time, I would love some input. Since there seem to be a lot of moms on MDC who are in college themselves, I may end cross-posting if this forum is kinda sleepy.

What we are doing so far:

1. Staying in-state.
2. My son has a work study job, half of which will go straight to the interest in his loans each month.
3. He qualified for about a quarter of his costs with a Pell Grant, about a quarter through Stafford loans (a mix of federal subsidized and unsubsidized). The other half of his costs? Um, yeah. Parent Plus Loans have been recommended.
4. He's got about two grand in savings from a part-time job, but he has a very hard time with impulse spending. I am a pretty good financial role model, but I am certainly not his only influence.

I am losing sleep over this and stressing out like mad.

HELP!

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#2 of 26 Old 07-26-2013, 07:14 PM
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Looks like this one went to sleep. Did you post elsewhere and get input?


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#3 of 26 Old 07-26-2013, 07:32 PM
 
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I didn't really know how to reply to this without going off on a tangent. 

 

This idea that every parent needs to send their kids to college or doom them to a life of flipping burgers is nonsense, IMO. I think it puts tremendous stress on parents, and the net result is that college degrees are practically worthless these days, so you have to keep going through graduate school just to be ahead of the crowd, and then you graduate with heaps of debt. 

 

I'm saying this from the perspective of someone with a Master's and PhD, who loved her years at university. But I wanted to go from the time I was 3 because I wanted to be a scientist. Science was my passion. I'm also writing this from the perspective of someone who teaches at the university level and is frustrated by the number of students who are there solely because they have drunk the Kool-Aid and think it's the only path to success, even though most of them don't really know what they want or why they are there. They aren't there because they are passionate about what they are studying, they are there because their parents and society convinced them they have to be. 

 

One disadvantage to my years at University was I was so old when I actually started living a real life and taking on real responsibilities. There is a lot to be said for the education of Life. 

 

I don't expect my kids to go to university, though if they do I will support them as best as I can, and I suspect at least one of them may be headed that way based on her passions. I am not contributing to a college fund. If they decide to go I will help them out if I can, but they may also have to pay their way, at least somewhat. It's hard enough to save for all the things we need now, not to mention retirement, without agonizing over something that may or may not happen. 

 

There are so many roads to success. 

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#4 of 26 Old 07-26-2013, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was fully supportive of his taking a gap year, working at his current job, or volunteering. I also encouraged community college.

He had absolutely no interest in any of these options. He got into college and I am just trying to find other moms who are going through the same.

I am not agonizing over things that may or may not happen, as you said (though agonizing is a specialty of mine)...I am dealing with the reality that my son has made a choice, was astonished and delighted when accepted into college, and I am trying to help him by using available resources and helping him with money management.

Cynthia, thanks for bumping us up. There has been a noticeable mod increase in both initiating threads and keeping them rolling. It feels nice.
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#5 of 26 Old 07-27-2013, 06:45 PM
 
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I am going to encourage my children to take a gap year and work/travel…but mostly work.  Maybe that way they can partially avoid the student loans that plagued me well into adulthood.  Otherwise, we will be able to pay for some of the college/uni costs, but not all.  

 

I expect a combination of work, parental input and student loans will pay for higher education.  It would not surprise me if my middle got a scholarship of one sort or another.

 

My children will be able to live at home if they so choose durng college/uni, which will help keep expenses down.  If they want to live on campus, that is fine, but my financial contribution will not (cannot) go up because they want to live away from home.


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#6 of 26 Old 07-27-2013, 07:54 PM
 
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Sometime in the next 6 years DS will be headed to university.  He does not have a college fund.  I suspect he will receive partial scholarship funds and partial need based funds. As for the 'left over' amount, he is going to need to work.  He knows this at age 12.  If he takes out loans (last resort) then he has loans.  I will not be taking out loans for his education - I have my own loans that I can not pay and are in IBR status with zero payment.

 

If he wants to go 'away' to school that is fine, it might be less expensive to find an off campus apartment.  Dorms are expensive, apartments can be cheaper with roommates etc. 

 

DS knows its not that I don't want to help him, its that i just can't help him.  He is fully aware of our current financial state and unless I find a super duper high paying job in the next few years he is going to pay his own way.


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#7 of 26 Old 07-27-2013, 09:44 PM
 
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I have actively discouraged university education. DS is going to community college to get a CCC. His Pell grant for 1st semester won't cover both classes as one is a pre-req that is not part of the course package. However, what he will get for the one class that he can take from the course package leaves over about $300. So we are applying that toward the other class and I bought his books.

My ex, who really pushed for a degree program rather than a CCC, isn't contributing anything. Oh well... ds agrees with me that he should get the certificate, sit for the industry certification tests, get a job (there are tons in his field right now), work a few years, and then maybe consider going back to school later if it seems necessary. But that would only be if he were to get married and have a family to support. Otherwise as a single young man, he'll do fine without a degree and even better without debt!

The one thing that ds isn't getting help with from me is a new laptop. He wants one desperately but we didn't realize he'd be restricted to just two classes first semester due to needing the pre-req, so his grant is way lower than we had hoped. All the laptops I have offered to get him are sort of beneath him, according to his techie mindset, so the simple solution is that he can continue to borrow my computer until second semester when he takes more classes and has more money. I feel bad, but not horrible.

As for ds working, that's more than he can handle right now as he is a poorly controlled narcoleptic and we don't want too much on his plate. His specialist feels he will stabilize in his early 20's, once he's past the sleepy teenage years, but for now one evening class a week plus one online class are all he can handle. Maybe next semester he can get a part time job on campus, we'll see..

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#8 of 26 Old 07-27-2013, 09:56 PM
 
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We're just stepping into this and it is certainly scary! DD 16 is currently working on her applications. She's only applying places we qualify for financial aid and have the best chance of making up the difference. For us, it's actually more expensive to send DD to a CSU or UC school (our state college systems) outside our city than if she went to a private school across the country. The privates have more merit and need-based aid (for our income bracket.... our states have next to nothing.) However, the state schools will take all her duel credit units (she'll have 30 units from community college) and she'll be well into her sophomore years with almost all her GE's done. Then again, the states are more compacted and it's hard to get your classes making most kids having to go for 5 years. We have two local state choices but one DD hates and really does not offer what she needs.... the other would be OK but it's not a safety by any means. There are two privates but they offer little to no aid and are incredibly expensive.  It's just so complicated. DD knows she'll be going where the money is... unfortunately, the best money is in schools that are reaches for even the most perfect of applicants.

 

It's our aim to get the kids through with as little debt as possible. DD has been saving her money for college since she was little. She's not a spender. It's a decent amount because she has theatre earnings from when she was little and she's been working as a theatre class aide since she was 14 (and just got a raise this summer... good for her!) She plans to continue working through college. We can only help with the costs.

 

I would love DD to take a gap year but I also know how much DD needs to go to college. She has been thriving at a high school/colllege hybrid program. She is a passionate learner and quickly outgrowing the community college. She needs to go to the university... I so hope we can make it all happen!

 

For what it's worth, we've seen a lot of different situations work out that seemed pretty dire. We knew one kid who couldn't come up with the money, wrote the school a lovely letter thanking them and telling them he'd have to work for the year and reapply the next year. They came back with another 10 grand in aid. Keep the lines of communication open with the school and hopefully it'll work our for you guys!


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#9 of 26 Old 07-28-2013, 09:51 PM
 
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DD#1 is in community college and we are able to just pay for it. She did not graduate highschool and she started college last Jan, before getting her GED, so she didn't qualify for any aid. She just passed her GED, and based on her scores, she will qualify for some merit aid next year, but the dates have passed for this year.

 

The plan is for her to do 2 years at CC and then transfer to a 4 year in-state university for the last 2.
 


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#10 of 26 Old 07-29-2013, 07:38 AM
 
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I was fully supportive of his taking a gap year, working at his current job, or volunteering. I also encouraged community college.

 

 

 

 

Taking a gap year can have downsides. We also were encouraging DS to take a gap year for travel/volunteer experience, until we learned that he would lose out on scholarships and admission to some programs that would not allow deferments. Instead, he opted to attend college right after high school and he will probably take a gap year after he graduates in a couple of years. 

 

So far he has avoided student loans with a combination of scholarships, savings we started when he was an infant and part-time work. Last summer, he was working 3 jobs part-time. This summer, he has cut back to one but has been working more hours there.

 

He also opted to live at home which helps a lot. I encouraged him to go out-of-town because I thought it was an important maturing experience when I did it. He decided to stay home. In some ways, it's made me happy too, since we get to enjoy his presence with us a little longer. This is not be an option for everyone. We are lucky that there are several excellent post-secondary institutions in our city so he had several good programs available when he was choosing where to study. 

 

I have mixed feelings about another way to cut costs. DS had told me that many texts and resource materials are now available for free on-line. They have been scanned in by other students. If he doesn't want to, he doesn't need to buy his textbooks. Personally, I encourage him to buy them because I think it's important to support the integrity of copyright. OTOH, he admitted that if he wanted to, he could save up to $1000 a semester.  I understand the temptation for a lot of students. 

 

 

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#11 of 26 Old 07-29-2013, 08:25 AM
 
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I have mixed feelings about another way to cut costs. DS had told me that many texts and resource materials are now available for free on-line. They have been scanned in by other students. If he doesn't want to, he doesn't need to buy his textbooks. Personally, I encourage him to buy them because I think it's important to support the integrity of copyright. OTOH, he admitted that if he wanted to, he could save up to $1000 a semester.  I understand the temptation for a lot of students. 

 

 

Your son can go to half.com on ebay and buy used textbooks at a cheaper price.  I just finished my associate's degree and it almost seems that textbooks are a racket for the colleges.  I would buy the textbook, only to find out once I started the class that the professor didn't even use the textbook!  I was pretty mad about that.


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#12 of 26 Old 07-29-2013, 08:30 AM
 
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I have mixed feelings about another way to cut costs. DS had told me that many texts and resource materials are now available for free on-line. They have been scanned in by other students. If he doesn't want to, he doesn't need to buy his textbooks. Personally, I encourage him to buy them because I think it's important to support the integrity of copyright. OTOH, he admitted that if he wanted to, he could save up to $1000 a semester.  I understand the temptation for a lot of students. 

 

 

Your son can go to half.com on ebay and buy used textbooks at a cheaper price.  I just finished my associate's degree and it almost seems that textbooks are a racket for the colleges.  I would buy the textbook, only to find out once I started the class that the professor didn't even use the textbook!  I was pretty mad about that.

 

Oh, for sure he can buy used textbooks. He often does. I did that myself, decades ago, at the on-campus used bookstore. What's happening on-line seems to be full-on piracy though, with no payment at all and without any authorization from the university. 

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#13 of 26 Old 07-29-2013, 08:55 AM
 
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Text book rentals are fantastic! We've used two online book rental places and it's saved us a ton of money. They send you the books and you send them back when you are done free of charge. Some books as little as 30 dollars for the whole semester, newer books can be more like 60 to 70 dollars to rent (still much cheaper than buying.)

 

There were some supplemental books we just bought used... one book we had to buy new for almost 300 dollars but at least is good for several levels of the subject in the community college. I just google the IBSN code and I get the options of where to buy.

 

I wouldn't go for the free online ones but I have no qualms renting. It's a real racket, textbooks. I remember having a professor that revised his book every semester so each class had to buy the new one... no chance of going used. The community college has started to require these loose leaf versions of the text with all sorts of online codes you must have. They are cheaper than the textbooks but still very pricey and can't be purchased used or rented. Then, your kid doesn't even need the codes! 


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#14 of 26 Old 07-29-2013, 03:06 PM
 
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I just google the IBSN code and I get the options of where to buy.

 

I wouldn't go for the free online ones but I have no qualms renting. It's a real racket, textbooks. I remember having a professor that revised his book every semester so each class had to buy the new one... no chance of going used. The community college has started to require these loose leaf versions of the text with all sorts of online codes you must have. They are cheaper than the textbooks but still very pricey and can't be purchased used or rented. Then, your kid doesn't even need the codes! 

 

yep -- I shop around for the books on line, and this semester my DD wants to help with that. On-line is SO MUCH less expensive than renting or buying used from our community college. Its insane. I agree that college text books are a racket.

 

I also deeply hate the on-line code crap than then you don't even need. What a waste of money.

 

Last spring I got DD all her books, but then a couple of her classes did take due to low enrollment. She ended up signing up for another class and needing the book the same day, so she got it from the community college books store. It is new this term, so no used copies. $175. For a paperback book.


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#15 of 26 Old 07-30-2013, 07:46 AM
 
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Text book rentals are fantastic! We've used two online book rental places and it's saved us a ton of money. They send you the books and you send them back when you are done free of charge. Some books as little as 30 dollars for the whole semester, newer books can be more like 60 to 70 dollars to rent (still much cheaper than buying.)

 

 

 

 

Hm. DS hasn't mentioned on-line text rentals. That sounds like a compromise that I'm comfortable with. I'll have to mention it to him, although I'm pretty sure he would already know about it and maybe just hasn't said anything specific about it to me. Thanks.  

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#16 of 26 Old 07-30-2013, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I do love half.com for stuff that is not time-sensitive...but some media mail takes up to three weeks. Any ideas there?

Thanks for the responses, moms!

We are sort of also saving money by not responding to the crazy "limited time offer" crap we receive from his college...rugs, "specially sized sheets," mini-fridge rentals that cost more than buying a brand new one! I guess somebody buys that stuff, though.

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#17 of 26 Old 07-30-2013, 11:33 AM
 
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Last spring I got DD all her books, but then a couple of her classes did take due to low enrollment. She ended up signing up for another class and needing the book the same day, so she got it from the community college books store. It is new this term, so no used copies. $175. For a paperback book.

By my senior year of college I didn't bother buying textbooks until they were actually needed in class. Yes, I ended up paying full price for books I might have been able to get used. But I didn't end up needing 1/2 the books. I of course bought books for classes like literature where it's obvious the book will be used and bought those used.

 

This time around I'm in school again and all my classes are online. So I've found that I do need every single assigned book. Without a teacher at the front of the class the books are the course content. I buy all of mine as ebooks, so there aren't many rental options (though there are a few) for those.

 

As for my kids. We aren't really saving. Honestly we spent the last couple of years paying down debt, and now I'm back in school. Once I finish my masters my husband want to get his masters, then I'll get my PhD, and then likely my husbands PhD. So I don't think the kids can count on us to pay for much of their college as we are still working on our own. However, we'll help all we can and they will get loans. We'll figure it out. The real hope is that all of the increased income from our advanced degrees, and our aggressive debt payment will give us some decent disposable income to help them out when the time comes.


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#18 of 26 Old 09-03-2013, 07:35 AM
 
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I'm curious as to what you are studying.  I just finished my masters to be a speech pathologist and am starting employment shortly.  Mine was online as well and I needed most of my books, although there were a few I could have skipped.

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#19 of 26 Old 09-03-2013, 08:02 AM
 
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I'm curious as to what you are studying.  I just finished my masters to be a speech pathologist and am starting employment shortly.  Mine was online as well and I needed most of my books, although there were a few I could have skipped.

I'm in school getting my Masters in curriculum and education as well as my teaching certificate.

My husband's masters will be in software design when he goes back. We expect that program to also be almost entirely online.


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#20 of 26 Old 09-03-2013, 11:30 AM
 
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:lurk We'll be in this position in five short years, so I'm taking notes. I have been taking classes at our local community college toward a paralegal certificate, and I found the education to be good for the most part (I have a BA and MA in a different field). Bookbytes and TextbooksRUs are two sites I have used for my books. In terms of our own kids, we are contributing to retirement, not to college funds and will try to support them in making the most economical decision they can, whether they choose a gap year program, community college or conventional college. I certainly will discourage conventional college if they don't have a strong interest in a particular subject, even though I went without a major in mind, and it turned out fine. Too risky these days in my opinion.

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#21 of 26 Old 09-03-2013, 02:58 PM
 
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This was rough for us. Our children were given savings bonds by one set of grandparents, a small Trust Fund (under $10,000, least you think I have "Trust Fund Kids" cuz I don't :wink ) and some gifted money from an other grandparent. Our older children started baby sitting around 11 and working at 16 and saved part of that, and my husband and I put away what we could. But, being a SAHM with a small lactation business, we couldn't contribute much. We had counted on.... well we put our eggs in one BIG basket. Our area was going to be sold to a developer and although we'd lose our beloved acre of land and house, they price we had contracted for was..... astounding. We thought we had nothing to worry about. Our oldest started in Community College, and then the next one went to the same.... then the Crash of '08 and we lost more than $250,000 in house equity! And the developer pulled out of the deal, leaving our entire neighborhood under water with nothing to show for nearly 10 years of work. (Luckily the lawyer we were working with was going to take a percentage of the sales or nothing if it didn't happen, so at least there wasn't that to deal with.)

 

None of our children qualified for Pell Grants. The amount we were "expected" to pay for each child, when we had two in college at one time was more than half my husband's gross pay. I'm not sure what they expected us to live on. So, our children used the bonds and the Fund and the cash.... and then took out subsidized loans. It was barely enough and they couldn't go to my Alma Mater, (a private Jesuit Uni that they both had their hearts set on) but both did well as a good State school and lived at home to save on expenses. Our oldest one is finished and working and doing well, our middle one is in Grad School and has received a number of scholarships and Fellowships but has still had to borrow money. Our youngest is still in Middle School, but it looks like there will be more Scholarship money for her, we hope. Plus her bonds (fewer than her sisters as one grandparent has died who bought them) the small Fund and some cash.

 

Seeing as what my children wanted to do for careers required a Bachelors or Master's Degree (one works in advertising and even the small businesses she does web design for require "proof" of at least 4 years of college and the other is about to gain her MS in Library Science. One cannot be a true Librarian without a MSLS (Master of Science in Library Science) and that is her dream. She has a job as at a library, 4 days a week on Circulation and one day a week in Reference (real Librarian job) and will go full time on Reference as soon as she gains her MS in May! 

 

It's been rough and we're not finished yet. Looks like the youngest wants a PhD so we have a long road ahead of us.


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#22 of 26 Old 09-03-2013, 03:13 PM
 
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I'm dreading that day.  I have 2 more years to go.

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#23 of 26 Old 09-03-2013, 03:24 PM
 
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My girls who are finished or still in college looked into this. Sadly, too many professors require the most updated textbooks every year. (My father is was a Uni Prof and usually used older books (unless the newer one had newer data that would be required by his students for their careers) so his students could buy used books or get them at places like half.com.) One year, one of my dds tried to use the book edition from the year before for two classes and found she was missing lots of new data that was in the new editions, so those books had to be bought twice and she lost money!

 

Also, being raised in Academia (and the daughter of a professor who wrote a few textbooks,) I have a respect for copyright and intellectual property and wouldn't allow them to download "free" books unless it was a paid for download and we were sure the author of the textbook got his or her royalty. Writing textbooks and earning royalties helps professors' kids go to college, too. :)


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#24 of 26 Old 10-28-2013, 10:33 AM
 
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We are saving as much as we possibly can.  We will pay for 4 years at a public, in-state university.  If they take longer or want to go someplace more expensive that isn't covered by grants, they will  need to take loans.  Mine are expected to work summers after they are 16 and save what they make to help.  I don't want them working during the school year.

 

If they decide to live at home, we will give them what they've saved over room and board to apply to grad school.  I have one who probably will do that.

 

We also do a great deal of talking about what the job market is like and what career options are like for different majors.

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#25 of 26 Old 10-29-2013, 06:11 PM
 
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Regarding the price of textbooks - my mom went to university in the early 1940's. Textbooks for each semester then cost about the same as one  month room and board at a rooming house. In the 80's, I managed the bookstore at a major university/medical school. Textbooks then cost, you guessed it, about the same as one month room rental plus food for a frugal student. In my area, renting a room is about $350-500/month, and I guess one person eats about $150/month (http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2013/CostofFoodJul2013.pdf ). So $500-600 for books per semester would be right on track. Not to say the publishers aren't profiting, but it doesn't seem much worse than ever.

 

About my kids' college - I don't have the money to send anyone to college. They are welcome to live at home, rent free, while they are in school if they choose (Pell grants and the like will help with tuition, but it is up to them to figure out how to finance this). If they want to go away, it is up to them. My city has some pretty fantastic community college and university options, well-respected medical and law schools, etc. Even if I were rolling in cash, I think my contribution would be the same. I believe that independence and self-reliance are at least as important to learn at this developmental stage as the job preparation.

 

BigGirl, 18, is charting a career path that will allow her to go to community college 2 years, work in her field while earning a bachelor's, get a better job while in grad school (this can work in nursing - her goal is to be a nurse practitioner/midwife). YoungSon, 17, is planning to start in the military after high school (this pacifist mama has some problems with this, but I appreciate his logical planning), then use VA benefits to go to school. I am not critical of anyone doing things differently, but I am proud of my kids and their self-sufficiency.


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#26 of 26 Old 10-30-2013, 10:01 AM
 
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Unless my girls get fantastic scholarships, we plan to have them live at home with us and go to community college as long as possible. My oldest takes honors classes. In high school she can actually earn most of an associates degree before graduating high school if she sticks with the honors program. When community college is over hopefully they will stay local for the rest of the university studies. We have three universities in my state, and it would be fine (maybe even healthy) to finish out college away from home but still in the state-- if we can make it affordable. 


7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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