Top 10 Ways To Pay For Your Child's Education
Whether you are paying for a college, a vocational school, or an online educational program, there are ten great ways to pay for your child's education.
Why Paying For an Education Is More Difficult Than Ever
I came up with the top 10 ways to pay for your child's education ideas to show that your child doesn't have to atttend a formal educational program that may cost your arm and leg, to have a successful career.
There are people who believe that the education system is the next bubble after the big housing mess. I happen to be one of them, so I am writing this with my kids in mind. I would easily recommend these 10 methods to my kids when they are ready for college.
Even as recently as a decade ago, going to college meant some assurance of a career with a decent paycheck. Collge kids spent an unimpressive amount of time hanging out and partying in college. It was pretty much an expensive leisure activity, but once they got the diploma, most were able to pay off that leisure activity, and they gained some learning in college. The tuition was somewhat reasonable, and there were plenty of jobs available afterwards.
Here is a little research that I did: According to Bloomsberg Businessweek in 5/7/2001, Georgetown School of Business (McDonough) tuition for 2001 was $26,720. According to the Georgetown school website, in 2011, the same program now costs $49,638/year. That's almost double.
How about the pay? According to MBA Junction, in 2001, the average MBA's starting pay was $82,000 then. Now, I have to admit that McDonough School is a prestigious institution, and MBA graduates make much more than the average graduates, but that's not what I am concerned about.
According to Indeed.com, the average MBA pay for 2011 is $93,000. That's only a $10,000 difference, and I didn't even include the inflation over the past decade. Schooling for our children has gotten outrageously expensive, and if our children are lucky enough to find jobs in our present economic situation, the pay is far less, in real dollars, than it was a decade ago.
Paying For College Education
Your child insists on going to college? This is for your child.
(1) Start taking college courses in high school if your school pays for them.
Usually this means that you are a good student and have finished certain high school level courses early. Those college level courses are called AP classes, and you are able to take the AP tests and pass and get college credits that way. Some high schools also allow their students take classes in nearby colleges and will pay for your college (most likely community college) courses, and you can transfer them to your college of choice later. Free education extended!
(2) Take as many CLEP Tests as you can.
CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program. It is different from AP classes because there is no requiremet for taking specific classes to take the test. Usually the courses reflect introductory college courses, and if you obtained specific knowledge from work experience or independent studies, this is the test you should consider.
There are 33 different tests, and you are sure to find some that you can take. A test only costs $77, and if you are able to skip a 3 credit course at @500/credit (which is a respectable estimate), you just saved $1500. Some people claim that you can save up to $7,500! Not bad, for being a good student!
(3) Choose a college that offers you a scholarship.
Most high school students apply to 3-6 different colleges. This sounds like common sense, but I know plenty of students who insist on going to their 'dream college' even if another school offers them a scholarship. However, wouldn't it be nice to graduate from school with no/little debt to worry about? Being in debt is surely the fastest way to a 'ball & chain' job. They will own you, and for a long time.
(4) Consider a community college for undergraduate study.
Community colleges are much cheaper, and there are a smaller number of students in each class. Usually instructors are more available for your questions and pay closer attention to you. It is definitely possible that you will get a better education there, if you are a serious student, although I am not sure about the quality of the parties.
(5) Work while in school or have a side business that is related to your major.
I know that plenty of people already do this, but I want to emphasize the importance of being serious early. Not only will you have some money in your pocket, you have a better chance of landing at a job that you are interested in.
There will be competition for the jobs you are looking for, which basically means, much less party time, and more learning inside and outside of school. Sorry that you have to grow up so fast...
(6) If your major is liberal arts, take a business class for every liberal arts class you take.
For example, learn how to do accounting and work at an accountant's office as an assistant, and perhaps you can sell your framed artwork to your boss for his/her office. If you are a creative person, use your creativity in your art work and business.
How To Pay For a Vocational School
In some ways, vocational schools are much easier to pay for. They usually last a shorter time and are also cheaper...and they are more practical. They are 'training' schools, which do not provide a liberal arts education (and party environment). But, many graduates do extremely well, especially with some business background. Your mechanic, hair stylist, dental hygieniest, plumber, and cab driver are all likely vocational graduates. While an MBA may make $100,000 after 6 years of school, a dental hygieniest can make $50,000 after 2 years. Some even make $75,000. Before you say, "I don't want to clean someone's teeth all my life," consider how much time and money you are saving from this. And, if you work at a big enough office, you may be able to do office management as well.
(7) Look for scholarship/grants for the program you are applying.
Federal grants are available for vocational students also, and there are scholarship and grant program for specific vocation from various sources. For example, if you are planning to be an esthetician, The National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors and Associations has scholarships for the students.
(8) Work more and work extra.
With a vocational program, there are intense internships available (hands-on-work experience) for almost every type of training. Ask for more hours of training or work for pay (even if it is minimum wage). You can prove how good you are while learning basic operations, and after graduation, you may land an opportunity better and faster. Make having your own business as your goal, and most likely you will do better than most BS college graduates.
(9) Look for a sponsor.
Are you looking into plumbing as your career? Find the biggest plumbing company in your local area and see if the owner will pay for your tuition if you promise to work for him after graduation. He/she may just say yes, if impressed by your initiative.
(10) Get a private loan if you have to.
While I strongly discourage regular college students from this option, for someone with specific training, I would say that a private loan is worth consideration. You are learning a real skill, and your field is clear. You will likely have some form of license when you graduate. Start asking your family and friends first. They may lend you money with no interest.
How To Pay for an Online College Education
An online college education has everything. You can get a B.S. degree or even M.B.A. It is ideal for someone already working. You can also do vocational 2 year programs. Because of the incredible advance in technology, online education is becoming more and more popular and is often as effective in teaching. However, I only recommend two fields of study for online programs. One is anything and everything having to do with computers, and the other is teaching.
While there are many internships and hands-on-experience requirements with most online programs, I am not sure if you can really compete with a regular college educated MBA for the same position if you have online MBA degree. Again, online college education would enhance someone with a job that is looking for more instruction outside the work as you are likely competing with someone else with work experience.
Just like in the other programs above, you may qualify to take CLEP tests and save money, get federal grants/scholarships, work study scholarships, employer sponsored program, and many others.
Life Is Not a Race...
Neither is learning...
When you shop and pay less, you are thrilled. You should have same mentality when it comes to education, especially now. If you are still obsessed with status and have to go to a fancy school, as long as you have means to pay them, just ignore this. However, if you plan to get a big loan for your education, I think my ideas may work better in this new period we are facing. Success cannot be measured in external means only, but if you want to extend your carefree life after college, borrowing $40,000/yr may not be the best choice.
We do have to learn forever. Find something you love to learn but be smart about paying for it.
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