The average amount a family can anticipate spending for one year of the post-secondary cost will range from $15K (public), $25K (private), and $30K (for-profit trade school). Keep in mind that four key variables can affect the range:

  • The family’s overall financial profile
  • Household size
  • Demonstrated financial aid need, if any, and
  • A college’s interest in the student (recruitment) and if they will discount the cost, OR

Keep in mind selecting an alternative education to career pathway that meets a student goals can result in a reduction in cost and time.

  • Enrolling in a Community College
  • Utilizing a 2+2 degree completion pathway
  • Enrolling in work and learn apprenticeship program (IBEW, Teamsters)
  • Employment with OJT

Why Is the Current Approach Wrong?

80% of families unfortunately look, select, and then consider how to pay. For many this approach can result in unforeseen debt, excessive borrowing, strained family budgets, and ultimately the wrong pathway to a successful career.

I have written before, to some claims (that I’m preaching) that families of college-bound students need to apply a different process. An approach that first calculates the anticipated spend (budget), then turns to the purchase (shopping). The exercise assesses a family’s funding capabilities, including accumulated savings, dependency on financial aid, and potential scholarship eligibility. What’s left is net costs (the expense) for one or more schools in the running. If borrowing is necessary, does the ability exists, and what is the debt tolerance? The result does not limit the search and evaluation of school options but strengthens the selection of affordable schools that meet a student’s authentic academic and personal profile.

Financing September’s Enrollment

Congratulations, May 1st, College Decision Day is in the rearview mirror; the school choice has been made for September. Orientation, the Summer Checklist, and moving in is left. Oh, Ya, let us not forget that a bill will be coming, and the balance will need to be resolved before access to dorms, dining halls, and classrooms will be granted.

Four financing vehicles

1 – Lump Sum Payment – using accumulated savings, investments, or available insurance programs, reduce the education bill by semester or for the whole year.

2 – Monthly Tuition Payment Plan – using disposal monthly resources spread payments over ten months. Perfect for families with rental income or previous expenses like a car payment, high school sports, or dance expenses. Work with the school’s Student Account Office and plan administrator.

3 – Borrowing – using credit-based home equity and private education loan programs are available to credit-worthy borrowers. A co-signer is generally needed, interest rates have a range, and repayment can begin during the in-school period or be deferred until graduation or early separation. A family can finance a portion or all of the remaining balance due to the school.

4 – Wildcards – vary based on a student’s high school resume, the family financial profile, and school selection. Hunting for scholarships, student employment, chatting with relatives, and following the classic Oliver Twists ask, “Please can I have some more,” should be pursued throughout the summer and after school starts.

Note: programs can be used separately or combined. The first bill will be in the mail on or before July 1.

College planning begins with understanding financing capabilities (budget), then continues with shopping and evaluating options, and culminates in wise financial, academic, personal, and career-focused selection.

It all starts now; you need help calming the waters, getting started, or addressing technical questions before, during, or after college; everything begins with a conversation. Whether living with a pre-teen, on doors steps of 11th grade, scrambling, or questioning post-high school options, consider adding resources to your team.

Start a conversation today – 617-240-7350 or learn more about the Tom O’Hare at