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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

School Employment

School Employment

ora di studio

Students will find several traditional work opportunities on campus. Almost every academic department or student service employs students alongside regular full-time college employees. You may not find these jobs posted in the usual places so you will need to check in either with the applicable campus institution or your college’s in-house job posting service. Campus jobs typically pay on the low end of the scale when compared to opportunities off campus. But they can have their perks. These include: Continue reading School Employment

“Guaranteed” Sure Sounds Nice

“Guaranteed” Sure Sounds Nice

Multiple choice examination form or customer satisfaction survey

 Scholarships are often seen as too numerous to sort through, highly competitive, and onerous in their requirements. Students hesitate to put much time into the various essays and other requirements because it’s seemingly a crap shoot as to whether or not anything comes of it.

But numerous colleges have arrangements in which they basically say “if you have accomplished X, Y, and/or Z to this point we promise to give you tuition money.” This class of scholarships acts more like grants, in that if you meet the qualifications put forth you are assured an award in return. Hence their name: guaranteed scholarships. Continue reading “Guaranteed” Sure Sounds Nice

Chart: Lifetime Earnings By Major

 Chart: Lifetime Earnings By Major

Lifetime Earnings By Major


(Click on the chart above to go to the original report or here for a fuller breakdown in pdf)

This chart comes to us from a report by Brad Hershbein and Melissa S. Kearney of the Hamilton project titled “Major Decisions: What Graduates Earn over Their Lifetimes.”  The chart/research lets us know a few key findings that we may find helpful beyond the usual high school vs college earnings averages.

Continue reading Chart: Lifetime Earnings By Major

Chart: 20 Years of Tuition Increases

Chart: 20 Years of Tuition Increases

tuition cost growth

For those of you who have missed out on the obvious, tuition has risen precipitously since the mid-70s and this rise hasn’t abated one bit in the past 20 years. As this chart from US News and World Report shows, tuition costs have about tripled since 1995 across the board, whether we look at state or private schools.

Back in 1995, when I first started college, one could all but get a degree for about what a single year of classes costs today. No wonder the parents of today’s students, who in their time were able to enroll and figure things out as they went along, panic when the full ramifications of these cost increases sink in. At these prices, making a mistake, dropping out, changing majors, or getting a degree with little marketplace value is no longer merely a slightly embarrassing thing. It can lead to financial ruin.

To say the least, one must prepare well ahead of time to address this level of expense if one has any shot at succeeding. As the old adage says, failing to plan is planning to fail. Nowhere has it been more true than in today’s college environment.


The Roots

Al at whiteboard

—“What should I have known then that I know now?”—

This was the tack I had to take when my good friend, a youth camp director, asked me to teach a breakout workshop for high schoolers about college finances. The campers, many of whom struggled to make sense of their options, had specifically requested the topic. As they all saw it, it only made sense to have a professional financial advisor dispense his wisdom. However, I found the task daunting. They had asked the wrong guy.

College-related finances was the one area of life in which I’d failed miserably. Continue reading The Roots