If you have a high school senior at home, chances are you’ll be sending them off to college next year. So you may need to have a good talk about acting responsibly. And no, we’re not talking about that kind of responsibility (though it is very important) – we’re talking about fiscal responsibility.
For most families, paying for a kid’s college education is going to involve drawing from family savings and making financial tradeoffs. And the data shows that in recent years, many parents with the best of intentions have borrowed way too much in order to help their child, only to realize too late that they had to do things like: make other sacrifices, send their next child to a less desirable school, or delay retirement.
Nancy Goodman of College Money Matters, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping high school students and their families make informed decisions about applying, choosing and paying for college, acknowledges that it’s not easy to talk about putting possible limits on dreams. Still, she suggests the best approach is for parents and students to sit down and have honest conversations about how much money the family can realistically provide from savings, income and borrowing, without going into too much debt. Ms. Goodman also notes that it’s very important to have this family discussion before the application process gets underway, so that at least some of the student’s choices are in the more affordable range.
For some helpful conversation starters, here are some links to refer to from the College Money Matters website