Category Archives: family help





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

Chart: The Increasing Role of Parental Help

Chart: The Increasing Role of Parental Help

Sources of college funding

This chart comes to us as part of a series of data included in Sallie Mae‘s most recent “How America Pays for College” report. Of note this past year was the big increase in family assistance relative to other college funding sources. The average cost-to-student will run $24,164 in 2015, a substantial increase (about $3,300) from last year. To cover this increase, parental help has also ratcheted up, with an average of $10,365 coming from mom and dad to cover the bills (up about $1500 year over year).

In fact, parental resources have now become “… the number one source of funding, surpassing scholarships and grants for the first time since 2010.” According to Sallie Mae parental assets now account for 32% of total funding versus 30% from scholarships and grants. Also interesting to note, student efforts account for a full 27% of the total, split between income, savings, and borrowing.

In other words, with bills running almost $100,000 over a four-year period students and/or their families can expect to cover well over half of that total on average. Thing is, the “average” family I know doesn’t have that kind of money available. Thus I see over and over again students running off to college with everything they can muster financially thrown into the maw, only to return home a year or two later broke, confused, and frustrated at the experience. The nationwide data seems to support this trend.

Families must be vigilant as they plan their help to avoid this fate. For this reason I highly recommend exploring other options for boosting assets and decreasing costs. Also, it becomes extremely prudent to map out not only what students and parents have to offer, but to budget when the proceeds shall be applied to the college experience in order that the student can explore their options knowing the price point they must hit on a per-year basis.




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)

Moving Beyond Just Giving Fish to Kids

Moving Beyond Just Giving Fish to Kids

Fisherman of Lake in action when fishing, Thailand

∼ Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life ∼

We’ve probably all heard this saying at one point or another. It relates a poignant and pithy philosophy of giving we should all take to heart. Any time someone else needs our resources we can either meet that need from our reserves- just to be back at square one the next day- or we can take a little more time with that person to teach them how to meet that need on their own forevermore. There’s also an unstated but relevant practical corollary to this idea we should note: if men want to catch fish for themselves they not only need the skills to perform the task but also the equipment.

How can we apply these principals regarding men and fish to kids and college funds? Continue reading Moving Beyond Just Giving Fish to Kids

Family Help: Intro

Family Help: Intro


The Temptation & The Fall

Perhaps no single set of financial issues vexes parents of teens more those regarding the funding of college. Decisions to help someone in big ways never come easy, and in this arena parents face immense pressures, internal and external, in addition to their innate desires to get their newly adult kids to a good place.

As a result too many parents fuel their kids’ college careers without much regard to their own needs. In doing so they often ensure their kids don’t have to move back in with them later only to find that later they have to move in with their kids. When parents want to help, how do we know how much is too much? Continue reading Family Help: Intro

Plotting Resources

Plotting Resources

Automated grains food packaging machine production line

Previously in these pages we’ve witnessed the high costs of college, the increasing rate at which for student/family contributions cover these expenses, and the all-too-common specter of fund shortage induced dropout levels. So how do we not fall short ourselves? Here’s what I recommend: Continue reading Plotting Resources