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You Have College Options – Even If You Don’t Have the Money

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On Moms Making a Million Radio, I discussed some ideas on how moms (and dads) can get their kids to college without going broke, breaking into the retirement fund or robbing a bank.


First, the good news about the bad economy: Nowadays, those parents that didn’t qualify for needs-based financial aid for their college-bound teenager previously, may now qualify.


The bad news about the bad economy: There’s more competition than ever for those needs-based scholarships, grants and aid programs.


At some point in the whole process, you will feel as though you are creating a stew of whatever you can get out of the refrigerator … a little this, a little that … in the hopes that it will all come together in a tasty package that makes college affordable.


So what strategies, other than typical loans and a bunch of cash, can you add to the college funding “stew” you are brewing up?


First, apply to all the schools your child wants to go to where she is academically qualified, and add some private schools in there. Private schools may not be out of your financial reach. In fact, it may be quite the opposite.


Private schools have funding options that some state schools just don’t have. This is especially important if your child is person that doesn’t like to be one of 300 in a class. Some kids learn better in a smaller, more intimate environment. Don’t let the idea of a “private school education” throw you off. It’s more affordable than you think.


Next, once your child is accepted, immediately talk to the Financial-Aid office and ask for a counselors help.

Again, here is where a private school can really give you that personal attention. On the radio show, I spoke a little about my private education funding and getting an $80,000 education (this was twenty years ago) for a grand total of $10,000. I owe this to an amazing financial aid department that gave me personal attention. My college was the same price as Harvard, and I didn’t even know it!


Experts say one of the biggest mistakes a family can make in deciding where to just apply to (not even attending yet), is that they get stuck on the price tag. Don’t let initial sticker shock getting you packing up your kid to the local community college. If you want to be successful in life, you have to work for it, and college is the same way. Gone are the days when college are going to come running to you with money (actually, that only happens in the movies, to geniuses, and “could-be-pro” athletes—the rest of us won’t be living that Cinderella story).


Here are some private college incentives that may help your child get to the college you thought was out of reach:


  • Cornell replaced loans with grants (most of which don’t have to be repaid)
  • Dartmouth and MIT don’t charge tuition for families earning less than $75,000
  • Harvard and Yale have income caps on their tuition. Parents with income between $120,000 to $180,000 only have to pay 10 percent of their income for college tuition (that cheaper than many state universities). And the students themselves are expected to contribute $4,000 of that through their own job and work-study program.


Many private colleges are now advertising their tuition benefits. For example when I searched on “private colleges making tuition affordable” The first link to come up was Hollins College, a mainly women’s college in Virginia. Forbes magazine ranks Hollins in the top 100 in its 2010 list of America’s best colleges. Hollins is featured among the country’s top colleges and universities in the 2010 edition of the Princeton Review.

Here is what they have on their admission page:


Our commitment to financial aid shows: Hollins awards $18 million annually in financial aid and scholarships.


  • 99 percent of Hollins students receive some form of financial aid.
  • The family income of students receiving need-based aid ranges from $5,000 to $150,000.
  • Hollins, like most private colleges and universities, distributes larger financial aid awards than public universities.
  • Our students graduate on average in four years instead of five or six years (the norm at many universities), saving thousands of dollars in college fees and debt after graduation. Take a look at our affordability worksheet that allows you to compare the cost of education with all available financial assistance so you can determine how much you will ultimately pay through graduation at the colleges you are considering.


Surprising, isn’t it? This is just an example of many of the private colleges that are actively giving financing options your son or daughter has. Don’t let sticker shock determine your child’s future.

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