Paying for College - Setting Expectations

Advice about college and the college process is everywhere. As soon as you start to look, every source presents itself as an “expert.” Sorting through who offers good advice and who does not can be a challenge.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is one of the sources we can recommend. Lynn has made a career out of helping parents set expectations and navigate the challenges of paying for college. Recently, Lynn wrote a blog post that captures one of the worst situations for families – when the cost of attendance doesn’t fit. 

Take a look at her advice. What we can assure you is that you will be well informed by adding her newsletter to your resources.

If financial aid is part of your search, here is an excerpt from Lynn's recent newsletter about the "best strategy" and the importance of using Net Price Calculators.


The best strategy

Here is how I would suggest parents approach this issue:
1. It’s important that parents set their children’s college expectation early. Parents should tell their teenagers that excelling in high school doesn’t mean that they can attend whatever expensive college they can get into.
2. This is the wrong message to tell kids:
Honey, apply to the schools that you want and we’ll find a way to make it happen. Only take this approach if you are willing to accept that this could ultimately turn into a six-figure mistake.
3. If money is an issue (and it usually is), the potential net cost of college must be a factor before a child starts the college hunt.  No school should be considered as a serious candidate unless parents have run that college’s net price calculator.
If you don’t know what a net price calculator is, here is a blog post that I wrote about them:
4. Some parents are just as mesmerized by elite schools as their children. The college admission scandal is an ugly example of that.
Some parents crave the bragging rights and will jeopardize their own retirement plans to pay or borrow for an elite school. Seriously examine your motivations if this resonates with you!
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