Many of us put our heads in the sand when it comes to confronting the cost of college for our kids, and we at Jupiter have spent the last several years trying to figure out why.

Let’s face it – sorting it out is a personal finance challenge, given that the sticker price of a four-year degree from many selective, private institutions has gone way past the $300,000 mark. Even at some public universities, the bill for four years of tuition, room and board hovers around $200,000.

Many of us seem to go through it all with a certain mindset: It is my duty as parents to make sure my daughter/son gets to go through college, and I should pay for it, come what may!

At times, our guilt comes from what we see and hear around us. Our friends, family and neighbors tick off lists of schools their kids are applying to, often with no mention of whether or how they can afford them. Do we know what kind of debt they are taking on, or whether there are wealthy grandparents in the background?

Every family has their own budget, and what we have found over the counselling years we have spent is that there is no algorithm that can ingest variables and spit out a formula. It’s hard not to feel inadequate when we learn that some of the schools they view as candidates are impossibly unaffordable for us.

What must our own children think about that? It is probably best to address the question directly before they even wonder.

Take for instance our client AK, who attended our webinar, and signed up with us when their child had started 11th grade. We were then able to understand the academic profile and the family financial profile and use that to build the college list that blends both the academic and financial parts together.

Take another instance of a client VR, who signed up with us in 12th grade (and we must admit after a lot of deliberations). The family was confronted with the daunting task of filling out the financial forms in addition to the college application related demands. The VR family was going to make a grave mistake in the financial forms that would have eliminated any chance of grants or scholarships. We steered the VR family away from that and ended up in their child getting a financial package that amounted to nearly 1/3rds off the cost of attendance!

Last case study we would like to highlight is the about a single parent family (AP) where the parent had recently lost their job in the pandemic crisis. We reviewed the college list and adjusted it to accommodate this latest development We were able to successfully position the application to help receive an “In-state” tuition fee at one of the top 3 college choices!

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