Chart: What We Can Learn from Billionaires

Chart: What We Can Learn from Billionaires


billionaire degrees


To make it through college in one piece most students will likely need to bring in some money by working for it. But in terms of wages we face a classic catch-22 situation: Students often pay for college to qualify for a good job but without a good job they cannot pay for college. 

Perhaps this is why I find this data set so compelling. As it turns out, a study of the world’s top 100 billionaires by Trilby Rajna of the UK’s Approved Index revealed that the most popular degree among these rarities was: none at all. Ironically, this finding should be quite encouraging for those who want to go to college. Continue reading Chart: What We Can Learn from Billionaires

Dorm Room Enterprises

Dorm Room Enterprises

Brown Bag School Lunch

In an interesting 2015 survey of the uber-wealthy we saw that a lack of formal higher education credentials isn’t an obstacle to billionaire-dom. This has great application to the aspiring student in that we get a hint as to one of the approaches we can take to tackling tuition bills through work income. Turns out, mere high school graduates have the potential to generate larger-than usual incomes if they know where to look.

In order to achieve better pay for their labors, students may want to join the “results economy” instead of working by the hour. As I’ve pointed out before, nothing really stops a student from joining the ranks of the self-employed (along with the majority of millionaires) and competing directly with their would-be employers. But with everything else going on must a student run a full-fledged, traditional business in order to be paid well? Continue reading Dorm Room Enterprises

Establish a 401(Kid)

Establish a 401(Kid)


Let’s face it: few kids save much, if any, of their part time and summer job incomes toward college. This much to the chagrin of their parents who see college costs looming on the horizon. After all, parents also feel some pressure when tuition bills come due and the student has nothing left to contribute.

How to bridge this gap? In particular, how can parents motivate students to forego near-term doodads and pleasures for the sake of longer-term priorities? Continue reading Establish a 401(Kid)

Time to Have “The Talk”

Time to Have “The Talk”

money talks

All the time in my roles as financial advisor and college finance nerd I watch students and parents get sideways with each other as the various school bills come rolling in.  Particularly, I see kids disappointed in the level of help they’re getting and I see parents disappointed in kids who seem to continue to want more than they can produce. I’m not alone in observing the parent/student disconnect. A recent survey by Junior Achievement noted that half of teens expect to receive parental help for college expenses while only 16% of parents plan to provide it.

The pain of disappointing one another can all be resolved, beforehand, with a simple and straightforward conversation about expectations. Particularly, parents need to outline in very clear terms two things: what the student can expect from the family in terms of financial support and what the family expects of the student in terms of behavior. Continue reading Time to Have “The Talk”

Let’s Not Assume

Let’s Not Assume

One’s an incident, two’s a coincidence, three’s a theme. And do I ever smell a theme. Just last week as I combed through my Google Alerts newsfeeds I read:

“A college degree is the gateway to success in today’s economy.” (source)

“A college degree is the only sure path to middle-class security…” (source)

“The biggest absurdity is that a four-year college degree has become the only gateway into the American middle class.” (source)

“… higher education is, more than ever, the surest ticket to the middle class.” (source)

If any of the above holds true, then it only makes sense that tuition soars and we, as individuals and as a body politic, promote a college-or-bust mentality. But keep in mind that any time we assume, in the immortal words of Felix Unger, we risk making “an ass out of u and me.”

Continue reading Let’s Not Assume

Chart: Slipping Financial Discipline


Chart: Slipping Financial Disciplines

Student behavior

Tuitions and other college-related expenses are at all time highs. The ability to earn your way through school is on the decrease. Cost pressures continue to be a deciding factor of the burgeoning dropout rate. Student loans are easily obtainable but are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy like other notes. Unemployment among recent graduates is relatively high.

So of course today’s college students, faced with this high stakes situation, respond with an extra dose of prudence and caution, right? Unfortunately, no. Continue reading Chart: Slipping Financial Discipline

Chart: Net College Costs vs Household Incomes

Chart: Net College Costs vs Household Incomes

 Income Eaten Up by College

This chart comes to us from a report titled “What is the Price of College?” put out by the US Department of Education’s IES division and but brought to my attention in a summary piece in Money by the ever-helpful author and college expert Kim Clark.

Anyone looking into the realm of college finance can find quite a bit of information about tuition costs and their rapid rise over the years. What often gets lost in translation is what it means. Do rising costs matter? After all, if  aid packages and incomes have also been increasing in line with tuition expenses we wouldn’t have much of a problem.  Continue reading Chart: Net College Costs vs Household Incomes

Chart: Graduate Debt Loads vs Wage Growth

Chart: Debt vs Wages

what students make vs what they owe

This graphic comes from an article published in the Wall Street Journal almost a year ago but only recently came to my attention. In it, author Phil Izzo cheekily “congratulated” the class of 2014 on being the most indebted ever. But as we’ve discussed in regards to tuition growth, bigger debt isn’t necessarily a bigger problem if incomes have risen as well. So… with that in mind how does this growth of debt look now? Continue reading Chart: Graduate Debt Loads vs Wage Growth