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One of the most alarming trends I’ve seen in recent years is people taking college debt into retirement. Worse yet, millions are unable to adequately save because of this burden. It’s an economic impediment to progress.
There’s a lot they don’t tell you about making college affordable and graduating debt free. They should offer required courses to high school freshman — and their parents — telling them the truth about this subject.
Ron Lieber, an excellent personal finance columnist for The New York Times
Walking you through the many traps parents and students fall into, his soup-to-nuts approach gives you a complete picture of college financing, including :
- The price you see isn’t the price you pay. The “retail” or “sticker” price of college tuition is often an illusion since most colleges offer financial aid that reduces the “net” cost.
- Why You May Qualify for Aid: The FAFSA is essential. This government form, required of everyone applying for aid, opens the door to reducing the net cost of college.
- Snobbery and Elitism is often a trap. “Name-brand” colleges may not be worth it while smaller and lesser-known colleges may be a better value.
- The First Financial Aid Offer is Not Your Last. You can appeal your aid award. Lieber tells you how this works.
In the final analysis, finding an affordable college that won’t shackle your children to debt for decades is a search for value: Which university will offer the best education for the best price?
“There are so many schools that can do great things for the right student—scores of them—and lots of them cost nothing close to $300,000,” Lieber writes as a parent and journalist. “When I visited their campuses before they all shut down for a time, it was hard not to feel optimism. I still feel it.”