It hit me how much making the best decision possible on where my kids go to college is key for the financial health of our family, and in particular our retirement.
Here’s my backstory that got me thinking so much about this.
The other month my husband and I both missed the high school graduation ceremony of our middle son. Thankfully, other relatives were there to attend, but we couldn’t make it because my husband had been hospitalized, unexpectedly. So we had to settle for watching the graduation on livestream.
My husband is home now, still recuperating, but otherwise he’s fine. Thank God.
Our recent family health scares made me realize how grateful I am for the college decisions my children have made.
Strategies That Helped My Son Get a Full Tuition Scholarship
Most recently, my son (our 4th child of 6) was awarded a full-tuition merit scholarship to a small private college. The scholarship came after we did the following:
- appealed twice;
- met personally with his admissions officer;
- met with financial aid, in person, and he still wasn’t offered any institutional need based aid (not even work study);
- sent in his interim transcript;
- sent in his 3rd marking period report card;
- sent in all four SAT scores – and then we waited.
My son literally didn’t get offered his scholarship until one hour before the May 1st College Decision Day!
My son had been perfectly willing to go to Community College for free on Delaware’s SEED scholarship if the full tuition scholarship hadn’t come through.
Candidly, we will have four kids in college at the same time this year, and no matter what FAFSA says – we simply can’t afford to put a whole lot of money towards ANY of their college costs.
[Read: How We Afford To Pay For 4 Kids In College At The Same Time]
The Family Impact of Choosing Affordable Colleges
Which leads to my point.
My husband is almost 55 years old. He’s gainfully employed. We still have two kids at home in addition to the four in college.
And yesterday, we realized that because our oldest four children all chose colleges offering either full tuition scholarships or full rides, their father doesn’t ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO continue working the type of job that puts his health at risk.
Although he still cannot retire yet, our children’s wise financial college choices may literally wind up prolonging their father’s life. He can now take a lower stress (and lower pay) job – and still be able to maintain our family’s lifestyle.
These types of decisions about college have serious implications to the financial health of a family and parent’s retirement. Initially, we were just trying to be frugal when we steered our kids towards affordable options.
We never imagined what a blessing their choices would turn out to be. We hadn’t even factored in potential circumstances where having minimal term college bills to pay could have indirect health implications for their father.
I’m sharing this type of personal information for those families on the fence about expensive schools versus more affordable ones.
There are no easy, simple answers, but I urge you to make sure you keep some affordable options on the table when your children are applying.
You might be glad you have them if unforeseen circumstances arise!
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by Sabrina O’Malone, author of “Moms on the Job” the founder and President of WorkingMom.com – an online powerhouse helping families save time, energy and money. She’s also the proud mom of six children, somehow affording four of them in college at the same time by the Fall of 2019.