The number of students who were accepted to all 8 Ivy League schools in 2015 could have been counted on two hands. Years of hard work and dedication paid off and this select group faced an incredibly difficult decision. Harvard? Yale? Princeton?
Ronald Nelson of Memphis made the smartest choice of all – The University of Alabama. And no, he’s not playing football for the Crimson Tide.
While each of the Ivies offered him some aid, it was not nearly enough to cover the incredibly high cost of college today. Alabama gave Nelson a full scholarship and admission into their honors program.
Nelson wants to be a doctor, which means a few more years of tuition and expenses after undergrad. The free ride offered him and his family four years to save for medical school and they decided that was more valuable than an Ivy League degree.
According to College Board the cost of tuition and fees (adjusted for inflation) at 4-year colleges has roughly doubled since 1990. The trend seems to be slowing, but for the 2016-2017 school year the average cost for tuition, fees and room and board at a 4-year private college was $45,370. That’s why so many families take out student loans. And that’s why so many young adults are facing massive debt as they join the workforce.
One of my favorite ways to defer the costs is to start at a community college. Spend two years adjusting to the workload while paying almost nothing. And you can live at home and save on room and board too. If you do well, you have a great shot at getting into a good college (it’s guaranteed in some instances) where you’ll earn the same degree as 4-year students, but at nearly half the cost.
In the future, the cost of college may disappear. We’re moving towards online education and MOOCs (massive open online courses), with Ivy League schools like Princeton and Stanford offering classes for free. And the idea of attending college once and starting a life-long career will disappear as well. Exponential technologies will extend our lifespans and we’ll return to college in our 50s or 70s to try something new.
This doesn’t mean that if you have kids now you shouldn’t plan on paying for college. You should, and the time to start is now. College planning is an important part of a comprehensive financial plan, and we’d be happy to help you see how it fits into yours.