Son graduates high school in June of 2018. He has just made the decision to go to college to study music education.
1) We will undoubtedly have to use student loans to pay for his education, so what is the best strategy to keep these things under control? He is terribly affraid (thank goodness he thinks about this sort of thing) of staying in debt until he's into his 30s!!
2) Is Stafford loans the only way to go? Hopefully in later years he can qualify for grants. Might be some small scholarships along the way too.
Thanks in advance for sharing your experience with us!
Best of luck!
There are loan forgiveness programs for educators. Look into those as part of planning.
Educators are eligible for "good neighbor" housing. The student loans can be seen as an investment in cheaper housing. I'd much rather have 40k in student loans if it would save 200k off of a mortgage.
Find a 5 year masters program if possible. The salary bump will be worth the extra year of schooling. Some districts it is as much as 8k a year upfront and 30k at the back end of a career.
There are several "male educator' scholarships, probably because 83% of educators are female.
Several high need school districts have grants in exchange for future service. These same school districts will often also be ones that help qualify for loan forgiveness.
I was planning to become a music educator. I started college with $50,000 in scholarships at a state school in 1998 and ultimately did not end up teaching. Instead, I have worked in higher education for most of the last 16 years. I am happy with my choices and feel they help me have some insight to share.
I think he should not take any loans--even if this means college takes longer. If he is able to invest $300 per month in mutual funds beginning in his 20s and continuing with that practice for life, versus paying student loans, he will likely retire with 2.5 million plus (very conservatively). Not to mention the protection afforded to your retirement if you do not take out loans for him. All of you will be "richer" if you do not take out student loans.
I recommend that he live at home and not buy into the idea of college as an "experience." Especially if he is an instrumentalist, he will find that college is full of alcohol and drug use temptation, and the younger a person uses those things, the more likely they are to have life long substance use problems. He would probably save at least $35,000 living at home over 4-5 years.
I recommend that he take as many classes now at the community college as he possibly can. He could also determine if attending a full year or two of community college would still allow him to graduate within 4-6 years. The biggest hurdle related to this is that a lot of music schools are very picky about their curriculum being taken versus the curriculum at another school, but you can look into the transfer agreements that a particular university has with the community colleges in the state to help with transferability. Alternatively, he could find that many classes are transferable, but it may be that he has to take a lot of music classes simultaneously that he may have taken in a difference sequence over a 4-5 year course of study. If he is a competent musician and student, this is more than doable.
I recommend that he teach lessons and work as much as he can during college to pay for as much of his tuition as possible.
I definitely recommend a state school. Again, preferably one that allows him to live at home.
A lot of companies have great tuition benefits for employees. Community colleges and state schools also can have great tuition benefits for employees. Not all of the jobs require high levels of training. For instance, the university I work for hires custodial staff at $11 per hour and grants 75% tuition remission, plus 3% retirement match, and a great benefits package. Such an arrangement could be possible for your son.
While most people think that it is essential to have the experience that so many college students seek, you and your son have the chance for him to do things in a different way and end up far ahead financially as a result. Someday when he has no debt and is looking at $100,000 plus in savings as he enters his 30s, he may be very happy with making an unconventional choice.
Thanks you so much for sharing your insight and experience with us!
Your help is greatly appreciated!
Nothing at all wrong with Dave Ramsey! Not that you said there is. Just saying!
Again, thanks for the great information!