Saturday, February 24, 2018

Money Crashers: Should You Pay for Your Child’s College Education?

In our progress toward financial independence, Brian and I have had one big advantage over many of our peers, which I can sum up in one word: DINK. For those who aren't familiar with that term, it's an acronym for "dual income, no kids." Basically, it means we're like the owners of the second car in this XKCD cartoon.

Kids are, let's face it, expensive. One estimate from 2015 found that the tab for raising just one child comes to more than $233,000. And that's only for the first 17 years, so it doesn't include the real killer cost: sending that kid to college. According to the College Board, the average cost of a year of college ranges from $3,520 at a public two-year college to $45,370 at a private, four-year college—so the total cost of a four-year college degree could easily come to $180,000 or more.

All this has got some folks our age asking the once-unthinkable question: "Is sending my kids to college even worth the cost?"

It turns out, that's a pretty complicated question to answer—so complicated that I've devoted a whole article on Money Crashers to exploring it. First, I outline both the advantages of footing the bill for your child's tuition (such as tax benefits and better job opportunities for your kid) and the disadvantages (such as sabotaging your retirement savings and, surprisingly, perhaps your kid's grades as well). Then I discuss some of the alternatives to paying your child's way through college, such as having them work through school, financial aid, free colleges (covered more fully in in this earlier article), and alternative careers that offer a respectable salary without a degree.

To help parents decide which decision is best for them, I provide a list of questions to consider, such as, "Are your finances solid?" and "What are your child's career plans?" And finally, I outline some strategies to help reduce the burden on parents who have decided to shoulder the cost of tuition.

For all my peers out there behind the wheel of the other car in the cartoon, I hope this will be useful.

Should You Pay for Your Child’s College Education?

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