Six Things To Remember When You Can’t Afford Your Child’s Dream School

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Image credit: Pepi Stojanovski

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The college application process can be an absolute emotional roller coaster. Between balancing classes, writing essays, sports, hobbies, and trying to enjoy a social life, students can quickly feel overwhelmed. There are choices to be made, which schools are a fit and how many should they apply to given that admission is never a guarantee. Make sure you cover your bases – reach, target, and safety, all of these things thrown at students as they ponder what and where they will be in a year are overwhelming. What is very normal throughout the process is for students to be drawn to and even become attached to a particular school they envision themselves attending if they are what the admissions officers believe to be the perfect fit.

Fast forward a few months and all of your applications are submitted and the waiting begins. The stress level rises as fellow students start hearing back from schools and your student is on pins and needles awaiting the decision from their favorite school. They receive their notification and they are elated. You are elated and proud and more than anything you want them to attend the place they have worked so very hard to get to. A bit of time passes and merit awards are distributed and you quickly realize that it is not in the best financial interest of your family to send your student to that school. Conversations like this are hard even if you set the expectation from the beginning that merit money would need to be received in order for your child to attend.

People often say, why would you let your child apply to a school you know you can’t afford. The answer is this: You apply because you can’t be certain what, if any merit will be awarded and in addition your student may be applying prior to taking their final ACT/SAT and if that score goes up, the opportunity for merit money will as well.

6 Things To Remember

1You Have Not Failed As A Parent

As parents, we want to see our children’s dreams come true particularly when we know they have worked hard to achieve them. Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair or easy and we can have some tough lessons to learn. Making a sound financial decision will teach your child far more and make your life much less stressful than if you take on incredible amounts of debt.

2Not Straddling Your Child With Debt Is A Good Thing

It can be hard for students to fully envision what it would be like to graduate with $80,000 – $200,000 in debt. Sometimes you have to paint the picture of what the reality of that is – monthly payments and just how long those payments have to be made. If they have plans to attend graduate school, medical school etc., paying above and beyond for an undergraduate degree just does not make sense. Also, they may want to buy a house one day and find that they are unable to make that purchase due to having school loans.

3It’s Not All About Them

If there are siblings who are already in college or will be attending college soon, they have to be taken into consideration as well. It is a life lesson that as a family you stick together, there is give and take and everyone’s needs have to be considered.

4They Can Still Get A Great Education

Many students dream of going out of state. It is far more exciting than staying in boring XYZ state with the same people I went to high school with. I bet you have heard that one as well. While going out of state is exciting and new and probably double the price, if there is an in-state option that offers a strong program in the major of choice it makes sense to stay in state. Would you buy the same shirt, car, watch, for more than double the price just because it came from a different store? More than likely you would not.

5Additional Things To Consider

We tend to look at the fees and tuition as the bottom line but what else do you need to consider? How far away is the school – is there the expense of flights home or flights for you to visit? Do they want to join a sorority/fraternity? There are functions and fees and outfits that are needed for that as well. Are there travel opportunities through the University they will want to take advantage of?

A particular school does not ensure a successful future, but hard work and determination at any school will set you on the path to success. Such a good read for a student that is either unable to attend their dream school due to financial reasons or due to not being admitted.

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