College and Money

by Kelly · 18 comments

in Money & Spending

I’m in the middle of exams this week, but somehow managing to keep my head above water. If all goes well, at the end of this month I’ll know if I passed my first year of graduate school, and I’ll be on my way to having a masters in marketing.

Getting this far hasn’t been cheap however. My undergraduate degree cost me nearly $60,000, financed almost entirely through student loans. I was older than most freshman when I started my BA, almost 24 years old. And while my parents wanted to help financially, they weren’t able to contribute much beyond paying my car payment (my father) and giving me a place to stay (my mother). While I’ve gotten grants for more than half the cost of this graduate degree, my husband and I have taken out another student loan this time too.

Bearing the costs of my own education bring up all sorts of questions as to my children’s education as well. So far we haven’t been able to put any money aside for their own university costs, which whether they are in France or the US (or somewhere else entirely) are bound to be expensive (more on education in France at another time). I fully expect that they will be responsible for financing most, if not all of their own degrees.

There are many ways of paying for college. My brother has managed to finance most of his BA through a well paying summer job, financial help from his father and some student loans. The niece of my almost-aunt is heading off to school this year having to keep her mother’s finances in mind when choosing a school. Others are choosing to go to community college for a few years to defray costs a bit.

So today’s post is really more of a series of questions!

  • Did you pay for your own education? If so, how?
  • Have you set aside money for your children’s college degrees? Why or why not?
  • What are your tips for saving money on college costs?


1 Rose May 13, 2009

It works slightly different here in England but thought i’d comment anyway 🙂

Did you pay for your own education? If so, how?
I’m in my first year of 3, and currently using savings (birthday and christmas money from when i was 3-18 went into a savings account etc.) for food and every day items. If I do run out of money, i’ve family who could top it up, but hoping i’ll never need to use that. The student loans (£3,000 odd) just about cover my rent. The government pay the tuition until we earn £15,00o a year.

Have you set aside money for your children’s college degrees? Why or why not?
I’m 18. Children are a few years away =)

What are your tips for saving money on college costs?
Spend evenings at each other’s houses instead of spending money on a bus and entry to a club and drinks. Buy in bulk. Canned food (Baked beans with sausages, canned sweetcorn) andpackets (noodles and macaroni cheese) are relatively cheap meals when you’ve only got 30 mins before you need to leave for your next lecture. Use the library instead of buying books. Handwash some clothes in a basin to save money at the laundrette. Work with others – sharing books and notes and even cooking for two can make life a bit cheaper.

2 susaninfrance/texas May 13, 2009

thanks for the timely topic. I paid for part of my 7 years of university–4 yrs undergrad and 3 yrs law school, all at State schools, through a combination of a little monthly money from my parents, working part time, scholarships, and student financial aid. I lived pretty cheaply–sweet potatoes were my main meal. But I still graduated with about $60K of debt. Paid that off once I got a job that paid well…about 10 years later (ooops!). I made lots of mistakes though and going to school in the 80s was all about money and showing it off–I got caught up in that a bit. Now I”ve learned the errors of my (old) ways!
I’m not saving for my kids’ school–they’ll have to go in France, not the US, where it should be affordable….I”d also recommend doing AP classes and possibly attending a Community College for 2 years before going to a more expensive school to save.
Now I”m trying to go back for a Doctorate! So I’m starting to find ways to finance it….I’ll be checking your blog daily for the rest of the comments and French info you’ll post as that is where I’m looking to study.

3 Laura May 13, 2009

We have kids to put through college soon.
We pay the rent and for the car…they pay the tuition. I have not heard that one yet but it sounds good.
I look forward to hearing how others did it.

Laura´s last blog post..I Talk a Favorite IPhone Application

4 Kika May 13, 2009

My husband worked his way through two degrees and took a loan (about $12,000) to complete his third degree. I financed my entire degree so we ended up with about $50,000 to pay off. I chose to stay home and raise our family but we’ve managed to repay this debt by living frugally and in a smaller, older home for years until the market jumped and we sold our first home for a good profit which payed off the loans in total. I also ran a dayhome from home for two years to help make our loan pmts which were, by the way, about $800/mos! I definitely do not want my kids to experience this. We’ll encourage them to save & work part time, but if possible we’ll also help our first born buy a property that he can live in and rent rooms out to other students and thereby make a little $ to help with living costs. Perhaps he’ll then sell the property to his younger sister when its her turn to head to post-secondary in the city?!

5 Melissa May 13, 2009

My parents paid for my car and rent and I paid my tuition and everything else. I paid for my portion of the costs by working 30-40 hours per week at various internships and on campus. Between work and school, I didn't have time to shop or spend extraneous money.

I fully intend to pay for my children's car and rent when they attend school. From there, if they want to choose a financially friendly school or attend the school of their dreams, it's their decision and their money.

I saved money by keeping busy by taking lots of classes (finished a four year degree in three years), being active on campus (there's free food everywhere if you're involved), and working close to full time (who has time to shop at will when you work?) My other key to not spending money was to not allow myself to go to stores like Target and Wal-Mart. I grocery shopped with a list and simply didn't buy anything that wasn't necessary.

6 Little Miss Moneybags May 13, 2009

My parents paid for my undergraduate tuition and room/board costs, but it came at a price–they picked the school, a small private religious university. I paid for all my other expenses, like clothes, car, cell phone, etc. I am paying for graduate school on my own, through student loans and tuition reimbursement from my job, which will cover almost half the $35,000 cost.

I haven’t started saving because I don’t have kids yet. I’d like to help them out, but I don’t want to do to them what my parents did to me and dictate what and where they can study.

Little Miss Moneybags´s last blog post..success!

7 Gabriel May 13, 2009

* Did you pay for your own education? If so, how?
I knew for a while that my parents would not be able to help out financially much. They provided me a paid-for car and paid my health fees for the campus system. I worked part-time (full-time in summer) all but my first year. I also went to a state school that helped me get as much scholarship and grant money as possible. I had credit cards to pay off, but that was just stupid spending on my part. Financial education–not formal education.

* Have you set aside money for your children’s college degrees? Why or why not?
We have started setting aside money for our son. My husband’s parents funded him much more than my parents did me, so he feels that it’s more important than I do. Basically I don’t want to entirely fund our kiddos education. I think that the choices that they will need to make with limited funds are important. Plus I want them to rely somewhat on their own ingenuity with us only as backup.

* What are your tips for saving money on college costs?
State school for undergraduate! Then if you are talented and motivated you can spend more on a graduate degree later.

Gabriel´s last blog post..New Song

8 Nancy May 13, 2009

I am the youngest of four. Our parents made it clear from early on that if we wanted to go to college it would be on our dime. All four of us graduated from a State university and we all paid our own way. Thanks to my dad, when I was in high school, he told me 50% of every dollar I earned had to go to savings. Extra money went there too. By doing so, I had enough set aside to pay for 3 years of college. I had a couple of small student loans and grants to supplement and I also worked nearly full-time my last 3 years of college. As a gift to me, in my late 20's my parents paid my last remaining student loan of about $1000. I think I have more of an appreciation for my education than today's young folks do because I paid for it.

Husband and I plan to pay what we can for our girls college education. We have set aside money every other week for them since they were born. My husbands parents have been generous with purchasing savings bonds for our girls periodically. The girls know that they will have to have part-time jobs and be selective with how they spend their money when the time comes.

The high school that our girls do/will attend offers advanced placement classes. They can take a test at the end of the semester and with a passing grade they can receive 3 college credit hours. We also plan to encourage them to take some general courses during the summer after high school graduation at the community college in our town to get basics out of the way at a reduced cost.

<abbr>Nancy´s last blog post..Run, Madison, Run</abbr>

9 Miko's Girl May 13, 2009

Hi! I paid for most of my college education – the remainder was paid for by the company I worked for as a benefit. I paid for college with pell grants, loans, a small scholarship, working 2 jobs in the summer, working during the school year (library, dining hall). I completed my education working 40-50 hours per week at McDonnell Douglas who in turn paid for my last two years of college (I took an 18 – 21 hour course load).

10 Craig May 13, 2009

I was fortunate that my college education was taken care of by my parents who financially supported me. I am very grateful for it and graduating without debt which has helped build a stepping stone into my financial future and savings.

<abbr>Craig´s last blog post..Looking for Beta Testers for our Brand New Site</abbr>

11 Hilde May 14, 2009

When I went to university about 30 years ago, tuition fees were about 250 Mark (200 $) here in Germany. As my parents´ income was beneath a certain level, I got money from the government – partly as a grant, partly as a loan. Having no car, tv, phone etc. (neither did most of the students at this time), I even managed to save up for some nice trips.

For our children we paid them as much as the government would have paid them. One of them got along very well with this, the other one didn´t. As it is even now not usual here to take a loan for your education, he had to work in the summer.

Btw, the tuition fees here are now between 200 and 500 $ per semester.

12 Connie May 14, 2009

I was lucky enough that my parents paid my tuition, room and board for all four years. The deal was that I had to choose a state university. They also gave me a little spending money each week. I supplemented that with money I saved from a high school part time job. After the first year, I got another part time job to pay for the extras I wanted. I'm so thankful that I graduated with no debt. Despite not having to pay my own way, I did learn a lot about saving money from my parents (they are very frugal). If I have children someday, I intend to do like my parents and pay for their college so they can start their adult lives debt free.

13 SavingDiva May 15, 2009

My tuition, room and board were paid through scholarships. I worked over the summer for any spending money that I would need. I took a few years off after undergrad and worked. I'm in my first year of graduate school, but I'm in a PhD program and I have my tuition covered and have a stipend for living expenses.

I realize that I'm lucky, but I appreciate not being straddled with student loans. If I have children, I would like them to have the same freedom. I would try to save for their entire college tuition (graduate school would be up to them). Since I'm not even engaged, children are a long way off!

<abbr>SavingDiva´s last blog post..DONE!</abbr>

14 Carol May 15, 2009

It's young almost-aunt, weighing in here. When I went to college 40+ years ago, my parents helped a LOT. On the other hand, many things were a great deal cheaper then. I went to a cheap (but good) state school–UCLA. In my freshman year, student "fees" were $80.50 per quarter. I lived in an apartment in Westwood–a fairly expensive part of town–but L.A. real estate was cheap in those days. Four of us girls rented a two-bedroom apartment for $240 a month. Split four ways, that wasn't much. I had part-time jobs, but the major costs of education were affordable for my parents, and they expected to pay them.

On the other hand, we didn't expect many of the things that students do these days. I never expected to have a car or travel internationally until I had a good enough job to pay for those things–and pay for my own living expenses, at the same time. I am delighted that students have the opportunities to see the world these days. It's a legitimate part of education, and it certainly opens minds. But these things come at a price.

The big thing, though, was that states had a different attitude toward education than they do now. It was accepted that educating young people benefited society. These days, the prevailing attitude seems to be that it only benefits the student, and, thank you very much, we don't want to pay for it. In a state like California, a school like UCLA only gets 13-17% of its budget from the state. The costs I see quoted to attend the University of California and the California State College system completely boggle my mind. (The costs of some of the private schools are totally unfathomable!) I for one would be happy to pay more taxes if it would reduce the burden on college students, but mine is a minority opinion.

15 Lindsie May 15, 2009

I don't want what happened to me to happen to my daughter. When I went to college my parents didn't offer any help at all. I lived with my father but everything else I had to pay for: car, insurance, food, gas, ect. I had a full time j0b and a full course load and ended up getting burnt out and dropping out. So I plan on helping my daughter as much as I possibly can. She will be 4 years old this year. We have started a College Savings 529 that we put a little in every year. My husbands parents have also started a 529 and they put about $2000 in a year. She has been getting savings bonds and money for birthdays and Christmas since she was born as well. I will also help her search for scholarships that she can apply for, which I'm helping my younger sister do right now.

16 Julie May 16, 2009

So this is funny. I am so afraid of the next two years of school. My husband finished is BA last summer without any debt but with some grants given to us. Now it is time for his MBA which, over the next 2 years will cost about $50,000 and that does include living expenses-but not very much… we will still be eating beans and rice A LOT.

We have saved up a good portion of money so we know we can make it atleast 1 full semester of school even if he had no work at all. We are debt free(Thanks Dave Ramsey for your advice) so that is a major blessing but now we are looking at $20,000+ of student loans that we may have to use to make it through school. We don’t get any grants for the MBA so our plan is to be as frugal as possible… yes I use suave hair proucts, bars of soap instead of body wash. I have also learned to cook a bit, not great, but much cheaper than buying even the processed food at the grocery store. Still haven’t mastered bread making though.

Anyway, we have been sticking to a budget and continually trying to cut back in areas where we feel we are spending too much. I also use cash for groceries, gas, diapers and such. We have two kids in diapers so that is a big cost. I definantly cut coupons and really you can get awesome deals with coupons and grocery sales. Did you know that? It is great.

OK, too long now… best of luck to everyone. If you want to try the “cash envelope system” of budgeting check these budget clutches out:)

Julie´s last blog post..My Lil Budget Book 9 pocket file Park Slope by Erin McMorris for Free Spirit

17 mimi May 20, 2009

I put myself through college and graduate school — a fact that I am very proud of! I believe my educational debt helped me make wise decisions, both while in school and now. I always had a part time job to pay for my rent, groceries, car, books, etc. and while I was in school I was making small payments ($60 a month) on the interest on my student loans. These responsibilities made me responsible.

I’m not going to be able to put my kids through school and honestly, I don’t think it’s my responsibility. I’m not going to let them STARVE but I think educational debt and part time work builds character and time management skills. And parents that give their children use of their credit cards in college FREAK ME OUT! I don’t care how much money you make — this is not helping your child make wise decisions. They’re taking their friends all out to dinner at your expense…believe me!

Sometimes I do get jealous when I see my friends who don’t have educational debt and the things they are able to do and afford because of this. But I don’t dwell on it. I have a supportive family and a job I love. I’ve been able to live in Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Portland, Maine and I wouldn’t change my path at all.

There are limitations in life that kids need to learn early on. I think putting myself through college is one of the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done.

mimi´s last blog post..The Renegade Writer…

18 Lisa May 22, 2009

I was very fortunate through my college years. I earned a few scholarships that covered the majority of the tuition and my parents were able to make up the difference for me and pick up the cost of books, rent, etc. I still worked part-time jobs and internships so I could pay for food and a little bit of fun money. I wish I would have saved a bit more when I was in college, but what’s done is done. I graduated with no debt and I owe that to my parents. I still have a little bit of money left in my college fund to pay for part of grad school!

When I have children I would like to set up a College Savings 529 so that they may be as fortunate as I was to graduate without debt. I’m trying to convince my sister to set one up for my 6 month old nephew so that all family members who want to can go ahead and start contributing to his education.

My best advice on saving for college is to have roommates to cut living costs and to not buy your books at bookstores. Check out and Amazon or buy your books from friends who have already taken the class. I can’t use the books in the library because I’m the kind of person who needs to have their own book and write notes in the margins.

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