October 6, 2011

Summary of What I've Written About College

I've written around 50 articles over the years about college.   Obtaining a good education in College in an employable field is one of the key ways to help ensure your financial success.   Today I'll review the various college related topics I've written about so far.

If you have a child headed to college then you might want to start by reading some Good Advice for Parents with Children Going to College   But if you're like most parents you're probably just too focused on panicking about the cost of college and wondering how you'll pay for it all.

Saving money and cutting costs      You can try Using a 529 plan to save for college to do that you should first Evaluate the Quality of Your 529 Plan Options and keep in mind the benefit of Pre-Paid Tuition 529 Plans.  Parents also get some tax relief via The Hope and lifetime learning tax credits for college do don't forget about that. 

As a parent its hard to foot the full bill so you should find ways to keep the costs contained.   Before they even get to college you may want to encourage your kid to Take Advanced Placement classes to Save on College  while they're in high school.  One of the best ways to pay for college is to have someone give you a free ride via scholarships.  Its definitely a good idea to encourage your child to pursue any and every scholarship they could get.   To be realistic about the chances there you should understand How Many College Students Get Scholarship? and be aware of a potential gotcha with the tax bill. Do You have to Pay Taxes on Scholarship?  For those of us in the West, another possible tactic is to take advantage of Cheaper Out of State College Tuition in Western States

Deciding If You want to go  

Before anyone pays for it the student should of course first decide if they even want to go to college.    You should know What is a college degree worth?   I found some anecdotal evidence of the value of a college education by looking at The Education Level and Job Status of My Friends

There has been discussion lately about whether or not college is worth it.   In response to that I jokingly asked Is High School Worth it?  But the value of a college education is a valid concern.   College is expensive and many people spend too much and get too little from it.   Unfortunately A lot of people waste money going to college so it can be a poor choice for many people.   I don't think everyone should go to college.   Honestly that idea is impractical and a little silly.    Because of this I annoyed some people by declaring that If you Can't Get A's & B's in High School Then Don't Go to College  and I later provided some good evidence that suggests the idea holds true pretty often  High School GPA versus College Success

Borrowing to Pay for it

Once you realize your savings and scholarships probably won't cover everything you'll likely end up turning to loans.  I sometimes feel like I'm one of the only people that actually thinks that Student Loans Are Good For You (within reason of course.)   Some people are pretty bent out of shape about the amount of student loan borrowing and on that topic I ask Is There Really a Student Loan Problem?   But to keep things in perspective I also pointed out Real Student Loan Borrowing Rates Flat for a Decade  Of course too much debt is a bad thing.   You should certainly set a reasonable limit so you don't borrow too much and decide What is the most you should borrow for college?  If you get in too far over your head with the loans and/or are unable to find a decent job then the New Income Based RePayment Plan for Student Loans  might help you out there.    Along the lines of borrowing I also answer the stupid sounding question of Should You Pay College Tuition with a Credit Card?

Where should you go?  There are thousands of colleges out there to choose from.  You can go the inexpensive route with Cheap Online Degrees starting at $16,080  But I'd avoid the private for profit online choices and I certainly think you should Avoid High Priced Private Two Year Schools    Instead of going the cheaper route you might want to shoot for a more prestigious degree like one of the Top Undergrad Business Schools  I also think its important to not write off the ability to go to a very good school based on costs which I discussed in Ivy League Tuition : Yes You CAN Afford It (cause of generous student aid.)

Once you've got that bachelors you may want to go to even more college.   One choice is an M.B.A and for that I looked at the  Cost Benefit Analysis of M.B.A. Degrees You could also get a law degree but I think that Law School is a Bad Investment   (well at lest for most people.)   

Deciding what to study is as big of a choice as deciding where to study.   Many people recommend that you should follow your passion.   I don't totally agree there and I discuss what I think can be The Hazardous Road of Following Your Passion  but I also offer a middle ground solution of  Double Major : Possibly the Best of Both Worlds

College Cost inflation and Why it goes up
We all know that college is expensive and the costs have been growing.   I showed the Rate of Inflation for College Costs   and the  Public College Cost Inflation 1980 to 2010
I looked at why college costs go up.   I found what I think is a Big Reason Why College Costs Have Increased : State Funding vs Tuition  and for that you have to also understand that Tuition is a Fraction of Public College Revenue   Some people like to point the finger of blame and claim that one group or another is are the reason costs go up.  I countered some of those claims with College Costs : What Part Do Professor Salaries Play?  and  University President Salaries Not a Large Cause of College Costs  and for people looking North of the border with a little envy I answer Why Do American Universities Cost More than Canadian Universities?

And finally in the college topic I also wrote several articles with statistics on college degrees and education in general:
Education Attainment by Age Level In the United States,
How Many Jobs Actually Require College?,
What Fields to People Get Graduate Degrees in?,
Most Common Degrees Obtained by Gender, and
What Majors Graduates Get Bachelors Degrees in

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