Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why My Kid Will Be Panhandling for Her College Education

Well, for one, because on the Connecticut Higher Education Trust 529 College Savings Program (too cutesily called CHET) web site, the college savings calculator estimated that with a $500 initial deposit into my three-year-old's account today, I would need to save $1000 a month between now and 2025 in order for my daughter to go off to college fully funded.

I'm beginning to understand why my parents always seemed to be dissuading me from having children through their constant iterations about "how expensive kids are." We're thinking about adding a second...so that means I need to find ANOTHER $1000/month for that kid? And with a projected 6% increase in the cost of college tuition per year, that figure might even be outdated by the time #2 is even born!

I guess that's why I choked on the realization that daycare was going to cost me $1200/month/child. Because, realistically, that $1200 we now put toward daycare should be funneled directly into our daughter's college fund the minute she heads off to public school. No wonder we feel so broke, despite having two more-than-decent incomes. I used to joke in the lunchroom at work about how my daughter would have to fend for herself when it came to college. After looking at CHET, letting her beg on street corners is looking better every second. It's either that, or we start playing the lottery.

Having been a "faculty brat" at Loyola University Chicago, I was spared any guilt trips over how much my college education was costing my parents. After getting accepted to graduate school at Boston College, I pulled out at the last minute, leaving my best friend and then-boyfriend (now husband) in the lurch. Why? Because I didn't want to burden my parents with the $50,000 a master's degree would cost them. I waited another ten years before applying to graduate schools again--and this time, I shouldered the debt (Why? Oh why?, I constantly ask myself, why didn't I just take the financial assistance back when it wouldn't have been necessary to repay it myself?) Now, my husband is in graduate school. Our loans will total around $80,000 by the time he is finished. At the rate we're going, we'll be lucky to pay off that debt by the time we retire.

So, kid, I guess the lesson to be learned is this: you better learn how to play a sport, become a musical/mathematical/computer genius, or invent the next Apple/Microsoft. Research scholarships like your life depends on it--because it does. Otherwise, you'll be begging for books in a college town nearby.

1 comment:

Summer said...

Don't worry. She'll be fine.

Take it from me, a daughter whose parents didn't save a dime for her college education, and yet, I turned out just fine.

Ella's very smart, so she'll go to a private school and get scholarships. And whatever they don't cover, she can get loans to pay for.