College Access Counseling

My firm, College Access Counseling, Ltd., works with adults and organizations who counsel and support first-generation and minority students on the way to college. I teach the ins and outs of the college process, helping them build social and cultural capital for their students. Click here for more information. I also write for NACAC's blog, Admitted. You can read my entries as well as some of my colleagues', here. Click here to read one of my entries in the New York Times's blog, The Choice.

April 27, 2007

Time and Money

With decisions in and choices being made, questions about financial aid come up. My students (their parents, really) get the FA letters and for some they come as a shock. As expensive as college is it really can be daunting when the cold hard numbers stare you in the face. Although I don't deal too often with FA questions (and don't really have the expertise to untangle some of the complexities), I do at times have parents who are unhappy with the FA they get and protest that they can't afford the EFC. I help as much as I can, mostly by suggesting that they call the FA office to make sure it's taken everything into account. Sometimes that makes a difference, sometimes not. Sometimes parents get angry at the amount they're expected to pay, even when the FA package is substantial. I've even heard parents say that they'll have to dip into the college fund they set up for their child because the FA package is "inadequate." (I, of course, think that that's what a college fund is for, but perhaps I'm being naive.)

Now, I'm not a parent so perhaps I'm being a bit too hard on them when I ask (here, rhetorically), "Did you not see this coming?" Perhaps college isn't the first thing on parents' minds when a child is born, but the calendar doesn't lie: Eighteen years after birth college arrives. I know it can be a struggle to save significant amounts, but it still seems that some effort should be made as soon as possible after birth. For the last several years I've contributed to a 529 account for my niece and nephew. Putting in only $50.00/month each, I've managed to accumulate a substantial amount for their educations over the last few years. My niece is in fifth grade, my nephew is in kindergarten. I also gave the account numbers to my brother and their grandmothers, who also contribute from time to time. It's been a good investment and the nice thing is I control it so it can only be used for their educations (it's tax-free as long as they use it for that). I know that at least they'll have a good head start financially when they reach that magic number and they're off to U of Whatever or Anywhere College.

I know it's tough and I know the costs go up every year. Still, I wish parents would plan ahead about this one element of their child's lives. Even if it doesn't cover the full cost eventually, financial planning is still an important commitment to make early on.

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Blog Archive

Books About College, Teens, and American Culture

  • A History of American Higher Education
  • A Hope in the Unseen
  • Admission
  • Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic
  • African Americans and College Choice
  • Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture
  • Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
  • Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers
  • Campus Life
  • Class
  • College Access & Opportunity Guide
  • College Admissions and the Public Interest
  • College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family
  • College Gold: The Step by Step Guide for Paying for College
  • College Knowledge: What It Really Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready
  • College Unranked: Ending the College Admissions Frenzy
  • Colleges that Change Lives
  • Consumed
  • Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing
  • Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed-out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students
  • First in the Family
  • Fiske Guide to Colleges
  • Going to College: How Social, Economic, and Educational Factors Influence the Decisions Students Make
  • Harvard, Schmarvard
  • Higher Learning, Greater Good: The Private & Social Benefits of Higher Education
  • Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood
  • I Am Charlotte Simmons
  • Increasing Access to College:
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  • Leveling the Playing Field: Justice, Politics, and College Admissions
  • Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered America
  • Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams
  • Looking Beyond the Ivy League
  • Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions
  • Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class
  • Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes
  • Race and Class Matters at an Elite College
  • Rescuing Your Teenager From Depression
  • Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education
  • Sophomore Guide to College & Career: Preparing for life After High School
  • Standardized Minds: The High Price of America's Testing Culture and What We Can Do to Change It
  • Status Anxiety
  • Taking Time Off
  • Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education
  • The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy
  • The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive & Reconnect with Their Fathers
  • The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools
  • The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton
  • The Culture of Narcissism
  • The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College
  • The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in American Life
  • The Little College Handbook: A First Generation's Guide to Getting in and Staying In
  • The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College
  • The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfull a Dream
  • The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success in School and Life
  • The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges--and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
  • The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager
  • The Secret Lives of Overachievers
  • The Unintended Consequences of High Stakes Testing
  • Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education
  • What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens