Galia Gichon in NY Times

by Galia Gichon on September 30, 2007

I am very excited to be in the NY Times! One subject I feel strongly about, professionally and personally, is saving for your children’s college education. While I am sure you are thinking, of course, you are a parent, that is not what I am talking about. I do want parents to save for their children’s college education but NOT at the expense of their own savings and retirement. When you are considering how much you should be saving for your children’s college education, make sure you are saving enough for your own retirement and have a big enough emergency savings account. I am quoted in the NY Times today just on this subject. Read the article by M.P. Dunleavey here: “Creative? College Costs Will Test You”. Please read the article and let me know your comments. Also, check out Dunleavey’s book: Money Can Buy Happiness: How to Spend to Get the Life You Want It is a great read!

Since the article came out, a few clients offered great suggestions that I wanted to share:

“I just read the article in the subject line. The article is great. I love the tap into “grandparents”—great suggestion.

I have two children in college at the present time, and I always wasn’t too sure if I would be able to make it through financially. However, both go away to private colleges, one sophomore and one junior. The cost is outrageous, I did try to plan and save, but you do know how that goes. I am a single parent and one child has a disability (which means lots of out-of-pocket medical expenses). The reason to give you the gory details is to give you my experience and what I did to make it all work, even with all the odds against me. One more note of the “odds against me” is, when applying to FAFSA since I make a decent salary—not much fin-aid comes my way.

Here were a few of my continuous strategies to help pay for college expenses, with the least amount of loans possible:
I made sure my kids gave their best efforts in high school and college. Achieving the highest grades they were capable of and keeping those grades throughout college. Scholarships come to high achievers.
Extracurricular activities really pay off in scholarships and entry to colleges, as well.
I made sure the kids applied to safety and reach schools. The fin-aid package that comes back to us had varied in scholarships and aid. At this point it was time to decide and see what the right fit was and what was truly affordable to us.
Scholarships, Scholarships, Scholarships, they are all over. The key is persistence in applying to those within the university/college and those outside the university/college.
The kids work in the summers and save their money for “spending money”.

By the way this year, I have also gone back to school part-time, so we have 3 in the household going to college. (Ouch)”
Debbie Massi, NJ

“Thanks for the heads up re the NYT article, a subject near to my heart. My grandaughter will soon be 12 and she is already saving for her own college education. I believe it is important to get the motivation going early in life. Everyone I know who was involved in work and scholarship programs comes out of college prepared for life in a realistic way. When everything is made possible for children, sometimes the motivation to achieve is missing. That is not to say that the fortunate young are always slackers, but the key ingredient is parental oversight and inspiration in a consistent way.
Of course, grandparents are good sources of help, but they are only part of a large package of sources of funds. We grandparents can get a bit frightened by the extent of help our children and grandchildren think we are capable of. As I begin to realize that life in senior status can be long, I have begun to make clear to my children and grandchildren that my finacial capabilities also have limits. I want to be generous, but I must set limits. That’s the reality most of us face.”
Barbara Ambrose, UK and NY

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