I have blogged HERE and HERE about my thoughts on student loans. I am still having issues with the repayment of these loans and it seems like I will never be out from under them. My sixteen year old son and I have been discussing college at length lately; we are planning a few visits to some schools he is interested in and we have also been talking about how we are going to pay for it. I do not want him to get into debt the way I did in terms of student loans, but even at a state school, college is quite a bit to pay for out of pocket. I am sure my son will be eligible for a grant and a few scholarships, but I do not think they will be full ride or will totally fund his education.
When I began college at 18 and then again at 25, I had no choice but to take out student loans. My parents didn’t save money for college for me. I had no idea about finances, or the fact that when I got these student loans, they would be such a burden to bear.
When my son turned 11, I began hearing about the Missouri MOST program, which is a 529 savings plan for college. Basically, I have a set amount that is deposited into this account in which the state holds and invests on my behalf. Over time, the money grows and can be used for college when it is time. There is a little bit of a nest egg in this fund, but not enough to pay for a full four years of college.
I have decided, if anything, I will take out loans for his education so he will not be stuck with them when he graduates. There is something about stepping out on your own after graduating from school only to have to pay back $50,000 or more. I want his fresh start to be truly fresh.
If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve started saving for his college education way before he was 11 years old. If I would’ve begun saving at age 2, he would have enough upon graduation to pay for 4 years of college.
What are your thoughts on student loans and talking about paying for college with your children? Did your parents speak with you at length about finances? What’s your story?