All posts by collegeaffordology

Upon Reflection: Changes Coming to College Affordology

Upon Reflection: Changes Coming to

thinking in the fog


On 9/27 of this year (2015) this website turned one year old.

One year ago I told myself I’d see how far this College Affordology thing could go, to give it the “old college try,” and see if maybe this little idea could take flight in the broader world. Prior to the website it was confined to local ad-hoc presentations, a pile of marked up articles in a crate, and unread writings on my hard drive. But in my head, usually while dreaming, I could envision a well-traveled and widely discussed website, a best selling book, a sidekick gig with Dave Ramsey, and all sorts of other perfectly reasonable things. Anyway, I determined way back last September I would mark on my calendar the one year point and then reevaluate the project at that time to see if it was worth continued pursuit as an avocational “thing.” Continue reading Upon Reflection: Changes Coming to College Affordology

OK, But What Does “Afford” Mean?

OK, But What Does “Afford” Mean?

I tend to catch a certain sort of article that comes across my radar with fair regularity, such as : “Four Steps to a Debt Free Degree” by financial blogger Jeanie Ahn, which is a rehash of the included video by Rachel Cruze.

According to Mrs. Cruze, specifically to get through college debt-free a student needs to:

  1. Choose a College You can Afford
  2. Seek out all Opportunities for Financial Aid
  3. Work Your Way Through School
  4. Ask Your Parents for Help

I take no issues with articles like these in that they provide a little bit of food for thought to those who haven’t explored even the most basic options to save and earn money for school. I would highly encourage any student to seek out these opportunities in addition to dozens and dozens more that would shave one’s out-of-pocket costs down to reasonable levels. I’m hoping this upstart blog and upcoming book can shed more specific light on some of these over the next few months.

I also wholeheartedly agree with the article’s #1 being #1. Your first step toward an affordable education should be to stay within your means. That much seems obvious. But it brings up a question: Just what does “can afford” mean?

Continue reading OK, But What Does “Afford” Mean?

The UNC Cheating Scandal and Why It Matters To You

The UNC Cheating Scandal and Why It Matters To You

Recently an academic cheating scandal rocked the world of college athletics. Over the last eighteen years more than three thousand students at the University of North Carolina (UNC) “took” classes that did not exist. In many cases this boosted GPAs to ensure athlete eligibility and the graduation of otherwise unqualified students. The NCAA as a whole faces increased scrutiny in light of the findings and without doubt the university’s football and basketball teams face some stiff penalties.

What surprises many interested observers of the unfolding events is the collective yawn coming from those outside the world of sports regarding this academic fraud. Half of the students involved had no affiliation with sports but few seem to care that numerous non-athletes cheated. This apathy is why this scandal matters to you.

Continue reading The UNC Cheating Scandal and Why It Matters To You

The Big Ts and College Outcomes

The Big Ts and College Outcomes


Why can you fairly consistently put any two people into a given situation and end up with vastly different results? The question has fascinated me for some time, particularly as I am privy to the financials of numerous people through work and ministry. I have met public schoolteachers with money to burn and flat-broke corporate executives. Some folks feel blessed by their wealth and others curse the day they came into it. Some walk through hard times with head held high and others with self contempt. Whatever the events in question I observe outcomes of greed and generosity, fear and excitement, success and failure, personal responsibility and others-blaming. Why the differences?

Over time I have come to find that one’s financial results have not much to do with externally observable factors. Rather, how one fares largely comes about due to one’s philosophical view of money. What is money to you? Once I ferret that out then with fair certainty I can tell you the sorts of results you can expect to show for your financial circumstances, whether it involves earning, saving, spending, or investing.

In a similar fashion when we look at the college scene today – the stats, the stories, the trends – if nothing else we note vastly different outcomes across the population of students.  Some graduate without a hiccup and some drop out; some credit their degree with a higher quality of life while others strive with careers and debt. Why? And what will your results be? Tell me what college is to you and I can probably answer that question. And for the record: my earlier-held views sure account for my struggles and failures as a student/early graduate.

Continue reading The Big Ts and College Outcomes

Because Freedom

Because Freedom

man walks along a dirt road and enjoy the freedom.

Today, in honor of Independence Day, we’re going to have a change of pace from the usual tactical level, immediately applicable financial tip. Instead let’s get philosophical and explore the situation in front of us from a more strategic vantage point. Let’s talk about something you need to understand as you make life choices of all stripes. Let’s talk about valuing your freedom.

Recently I ran across an article/photo essay on the UK’s Daily Mail website which provided a glimpse into a handful of “Peter Pan generation Lost Boys” as captured by the lens of one Liz Calvi of West Hartford Connecticut. The content completely captured my attention, and my ire, not so much for the photographs but for the language used to explain why these young men had all dropped out of college and moved back in with mom and dad. And I quote (emphases mine):

  • They “were forced to move back in with their parents, unable to get a job…”
  • “You’re almost in this trap, where you have to go to college to get a job…” (but college is untenable due to the costs)
  • “But college costs so much money, so sometimes you have to go back home to live with your parents.”

I reacted so viscerally to these statements, and to the representative photographs, because I don’t find this line of thought uncommon at all among the lost boys I encounter with regularity. In writing the following I do not specifically pick on any of the men in depicted in the article. I speak to every young person when I seek to clear something up once and for all with another quote, this one from my mother:

“Nobody’s making you do anything.”  

Continue reading Because Freedom

Chowing Down on the Cheap

Chowing Down on the Cheap

Unhealthy fat man trying to eat one more pizza part


I save the least important subject of the site for last. You will always have a food budget, and eating right costs good money. In terms of its toll on health and wellness, cheap food is rarely worth the price. That said, you can eat well and save money as a student if you forego the more common options presented to you. Let’s dive into some of the food options and plans distinct to the college experience. Continue reading Chowing Down on the Cheap

Chart: The Most Expensive College Dorms in Each State

Chart: The Most Expensive College Dorms in Each State

Most expensive room & board by state

Elsewhere we’ve detailed the full-cost breakdown students face when going to college. The big lesson was to not ignore the fact that we must also consider the financial impact of room, board, books, and transportation when making plans. After I presented that chart I was tempted to provide you with a series of tips on how to save money on such things. But I realized to do so at this point in this blog’s lifespan would send the wrong message.

This chart unwittingly proves this point. Here we have an infographic and state-by-state breakdown compiled by of the most expensive dorms in each state (note, however, this chart and figures refer to room and food, meaning the combined cost of dorms and meal plans).

While fun and informative, this chart serves as a great object lesson to not get too mired down in dealing with such expenses.  Yes, we need to consider them when pre-planning our annual allocations of resources. But… Continue reading Chart: The Most Expensive College Dorms in Each State





Ah, the college life. Fond, fond memories of those two a.m. prank runs, the late night bull sessions, the sort of crazy antics that come anytime you put six teenage guys in a small space with no direct supervision.

One way or another, college housing dynamics make or break a college experience. It probably goes without saying, but you will spend more time with your roommates than your profs and more time around your living space than in any classroom. Getting this right matters quite a bit to the college experience. You will have a lot more considerations to the situation than purely financial ones. Roommate selection, amenities, décor, proximities and so forth impact everything you do in college. Continue reading Housing

Soaring Textbook Prices

Soaring Textbook Prices

Textbook Prices

Every fall students all over the country will flock to their respective colleges, enroll in courses, pick up their syllabi, walk over the bookstore and freak out at the prices of the required textbooks. No kids, those aren’t typos. Your physics textbook really does run $350 and yes, you are paying more than when you started just four years ago.

This week’s chart, brought to us by the American Enterprise Institute, shows the rapid rise in textbook costs relative to inflation and, super bonus, to books in general. Textbook costs have risen substantially faster than general inflation, home prices, and medical care. And this in a world where Amazon regularly slashes the prices of popular titles… traditional publishing books have actually decreased in price over the years.

As the AEI full article points out, with average textbook prices for some disciplines in the range of $250 and with several books required each semester, this can add thousands and thousands of dollars to the cost of one’s college tally. Nobody will deny that students are getting ripped off, but what to do about it? How do we work these costs into our plans? Can these costs be combatted? We have given you some great tips, which you can find by clicking “books” in the categories column to your right.