We’re in the same boat as you. We’re solidly middle class.
So to make college affordable, we’ve literally forced and micromanaged our oldest child (a sophomore at our State University) to maintain his GPA high enough to keep his full-tuition scholarships; and if he wants to live on campus he simply has to be an RA so he can have free housing. No other choices. Non negotiable.
Our next oldest child (a high school senior) has to work full-time all summer. She’s a lifeguard and can get full time seasonal hours easily. She must also accept a work study at the college she’s going to, and she’ll also take the subsidized student Direct loan, just in case we cannot afford the monthly payment plan while she’s in school. She is going to a no-loan school, but she can take one if needed. Her college expects less than 10k/yr from us after financial aid, but just in case we don’t have it, she can cover the whole portion with her summer savings + work study + loans. We’re not taking any chances.
10 Family Sacrifices
Then more radically, these are 10 things we’ve done and sacrificed, which I recommend other families to do, in order to pay for college:
1. Reduced the dollar amount of coverage on our car insurance plan which saved us 20% from what we previously were paying.
2. I had every licensed driver take a 6-hour defensive driving class to save another 10%-15% off our car insurance premiums.
3. I called the phone, internet, cable company and seriously was going to turn them all off until they gave us an “introductory rate package” saving 35% off.
4. Restaurants and fast food are things of the past. We eat at home almost every meal.
5. I now grocery shop at Aldi instead of Safeway which literally slashed our monthly grocery bill in half.
6. And we donate ALL our outgrown clothing every other month to a clothing consignment store ministry in our area. We get the tax-write off, help our local community and consider it part of our tithe.
7. We have deliberately maxed out my husband’s 401k contributions on his job. This is because we don’t have enough saved for retirement and it also lowers our taxable income.
8. I practice hypermiling in our cars to increase fuel economy.
9. We make everything last. Our newest vehicle has over 100,000 miles. And our living room furniture is officially 20 years old this March. I learned how to relax my own hair, and braid my youngest daughters hair myself. My older girls grew their hair into natural styles to save money on hair salons.
10. I increased the deductibles on our health insurance plan and our dental coverage and now I insist the kids eat healthier, go to the gym with me and floss their teeth to reduce the risk of anyone needing anything expensive health related in the next four years.
We have no debt except our mortgage. Our kids are killing it in college and high school because we’ve made it clear there are really no fall-back options. No one is going hungry. Our bills are paid. It’s a little austere, but it’s NOT forever.
CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS FIGURING OUT HOW TO PAY FOR COLLEGE
by Sabrina Malone, best-selling author of the book “Moms on the Job”, Sabrina is the founder and President of WorkingMom.com – an online powerhouse helping over a half a million families per year save time, energy and money. Frequently featured on National television and radio, this entrepreneur, homeschooling mom of six and former Mrs. America Pageant Contestant (but that’s a different story) is also an engaging, motivational speaker with practical tips for professional and personal success. http://www.workingmom.com/ivy-league-college-admission-tips/