When paying for college, treat the family as a business, with a finite pile of dollars available to pay for your child's tuition. Once you hit that number, make the hard, emotional choices.
Stan Molotsky, of SHM Financial Group, financial planners with locations in Collingswood, Voorhees, and Toms River, plays bad cop for many of his client families. His advice to parents with kids matriculating to expensive universities is that they don't need to put themselves or their children in massive debt to get those degrees.
If you or your child does borrow for college, borrow no more than half the tuition per year, Molotsky advises.
"All students in college should work to pay for part of tuition and other expenses," he says. Although one recent study shows there is no way an 18-year-old entering college can pay full tuition, even with a full-time job, working during college is a must.
Loans from parents' 401(k) plans are a last resort, he says. Often, 401(k) loans must be paid back even sooner than expected - should a parent lose his or her job, for example.
Prevail upon grandparents if they're in a position financially to help, Molotsky says.
"Ask if they're making any contributions to a college savings fund. Or they can lump together holiday and birthday checks for the grandkids and, instead of giving to the child, send money directly to the university," he adds.
Finally, Molotsky says, choose a public college over a private one, and let a financial planner deliver the bad news to your kids.
"They'll be unhappy for about 30 seconds."
On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Council for Business Economics will host Bernie Markstein, chief economist at Reed Construction Data, who will give his economic outlook. Registration will close Monday for the noon event at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, 10 Independence Mall (corner of Sixth and Arch Streets).
Next month, the PCBE will host Denise Furey, founder of Regent Square Advisors, for a June 25 presentation on energy and the utility sectors.
For more information, contact PCBE president Ralph Giraud (firstname.lastname@example.org).