So last week I attended my youngest son’s college graduation ceremony, an experience that needless to say brings up a lot of emotions; pride, joy, and little sadness about the passage of time. He graduated on a Friday and started his first...
So last week I attended my youngest son’s college graduation ceremony, an experience that needless to say brings up a lot of emotions; pride, joy, and little sadness about the passage of time. He graduated on a Friday and started his first “Adulting” job the following Monday working a research job back at his University while he plots out his post-graduate plans. As a certified money nerd it’s more or less impossible for me to reflect back on anything without money entering into storyline, so I thought I’d hit record and share a few thoughts:
Being Selective about College Costs
My oldest son was a right-brained creative and wanted to go to art school. The two most prominent art schools in the state that we live in are private. According to the site CollegeSimply.com the average net total cost to attend the leading private art school is currently $46k/year. Over our son’s objections (initially) we steered him instead to Community College first, then to a 4 year in-state school that had established a comparable art program to the private universities. The cost to attend that school for in-state students is $15k.
As for my most recent graduate, he was accepted at several out of state schools and really wanted to go to one of them, not so much for academic reasons but rather for the ‘college experience”. As parents, his mother and I made it clear to him that because we believed he could get a comparable education in-state and avoid out-of -state fees, we would only support him going to an in-state college. For comparison, the current average net cost to attend the university that my son just graduated from for in-state students is $17k/year, while the cost of the out-of-state university is $32k.
I’ll also add that we live in a state that offers a scholarship program that provides students who graduate high school with a 3.0 GPA and maintain that GPA in college with scholarships that cover a significant amount of tuition costs. Both of my sons held up their end of the bargain by attending in-state schools and meeting those GPA qualifications throughout their college years.
Before the graduation ceremony we had time to talk with our new graduate about managing his money, now that he has a job, he will be largely responsible for his own expenses. It filled my heart with pride when he said “I’ve been reading up and decided the 50/30/20 budget would work best for me”. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, this is a budgeting method where you allocate 50% of your take-home pay towards needs (housing, utilities, food, transportation and the like), 30% to wants; things like eating out, entertainment, vacations, etc, and 20% for Savings/Debt repayment. I think this is a great way to start the process of budgeting, even if reality says that you may have to adjust the percentages a bit to reflect your reality. The fact that you’re only tracking 3 categories makes it easier and less intimidating than more complicated methods, and it sets you up nicely to automate your savings into an account that’s separate from those that you use for your wants and needs. This way, when you come up short on your needs, you’re more likely to look at your wants first instead of your savings to make up the shortfall.
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