Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

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mxs
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Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by mxs » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:24 pm

I am helping my niece get ready for college and we got some good news. She was accepted to a school and offered 20k in scholarships from the school. The bad news is the school is more than 50k a year. The wild card is that she is eligible for another scholarship but it is for an undetermined amount and the award isn't announced until about July. It could be 10k, it could be 30k, I just don't know. I would lean closer to 10k than 30k. I told her to look for any and all other scholarships, ask the financial aid office for scholarship info, and ask her high school art teachers ( she is an artist and plans on studying art ) for any information they may have. She is working and saving, but I'm sure she could do better. To be fair I know I could have done better at her age but did not, so I am not judging. Any other advice or suggestions? Her family would not be able to pay the difference, and she is unlikely to receive much if anything in financial aid.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by livesoft » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:29 pm

Since she is working she can continue to work and defer going to college until she gets all her finances in order. Colleges routinely let students start a year later than they were accepted.
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by MnyGrl » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:52 pm

She is pursuing an art degree?

I am a writer and know a number of artists and writers with these degrees. Working artists often don't make much money - at least not for a while - and many of them who have nice art degrees from fancy schools are still paying student loans in their 40s and 50s, because lots of the jobs in the arts don't pay well.

She may get lucky, but she may want to consider spending less on that degree as well. I got into an Ivy League school for the arts, but I turned it down and it was the right move for me. I'll get to retire and all that, unlike some of my friends. :)

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by 123 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:04 pm

Deciding on a college can involve a lot of difficult decisions. Some colleges manipulate students by establishing a high "list price" and then offering many, if not all, students a scholarship. They know students are more likely to actually enroll at a school that offers them a substantial scholarship, even if their out-of-pocket costs will be greater than at other schools that don't give them a substantial scholarship. Deciding on a college can involve a lot of difficult issues. Maybe one of her alternative college choices makes more financial sense.

If money is tight perhaps she should got to a local community college or public college for the first year or two. Much of the first two years of college is general education and introductory classes that can be taken elsewhere before transferring to the "premium" school for upper division course and graduation. Of course, most students would want to start out at the higher end school for non-academic reasons like getting away from parents and family and living away.
Last edited by 123 on Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by JBTX » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:06 pm

1. $50k is a lot, especially for an art degree even with scholarships.
2. Hopefully it is a legit school. There are some private art schools that are great at marketing but their degree is of virtually zero value
3. My daughter is very talented at art. Takes advanced art classes in HS. We hope she continues with it, on the side, not as a primary area of study. Getting an actual good paying job in that field is very difficult I imagine.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by Nate79 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:28 pm

What does she want to do for a living and what is the income potential? $50k per year is a lot for any future profession.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by DaftInvestor » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:40 pm

"her family will not be able to pay the differenece"
And
"she is unlikely to receive financial aid"
Are somewhat contradictory statements - why this conclusion?
She should be eligible for an unsubsized loan just for applying (without having to demonstrate need).
And if her family is "not able" to help she should be eligible for subsidized loans.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by Watty » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:00 am

MnyGrl wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:52 pm
She is pursuing an art degree?

I am a writer and know a number of artists and writers with these degrees. Working artists often don't make much money - at least not for a while - and many of them who have nice art degrees from fancy schools are still paying student loans in their 40s and 50s, because lots of the jobs in the arts don't pay well.

She may get lucky, but she may want to consider spending less on that degree as well. I got into an Ivy League school for the arts, but I turned it down and it was the right move for me. I'll get to retire and all that, unlike some of my friends. :)
+1000

One thing she should be doing is trying to connect with recent graduates of the school to see what they have to say about the real career prospects. If she is doing a campus visit then on her free time she should just wonder into some of the buildings and start talking to random people to try to find some seniors who will be graduating soon to get their impression of the career prospects.

One approach she might want to take if she wants to pursue art and art degree would be to work on a double major with a more marketable degree that could be complementary to her art. For example is she paints then she could also work on a chemistry degree. A lot of art can also involve computers she might also be able to work on some sort of computer technology degree.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by mxs » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:06 pm

Thank you for all the advice and ideas. We are going on a tour soon and meeting with the financial aid office to get a better idea of the school and costs. She is not very math inclined, but I could see an English or foreign language double major having benefits and opportunities. The financial aid office said the wild card scholarship would likely be 10k.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by climber2020 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:22 pm

mxs wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:24 pm
I am helping my niece get ready for college and we got some good news. She was accepted to a school and offered 20k in scholarships from the school. The bad news is the school is more than 50k a year. The wild card is that she is eligible for another scholarship but it is for an undetermined amount and the award isn't announced until about July. It could be 10k, it could be 30k, I just don't know. I would lean closer to 10k than 30k. I told her to look for any and all other scholarships, ask the financial aid office for scholarship info, and ask her high school art teachers ( she is an artist and plans on studying art ) for any information they may have. She is working and saving, but I'm sure she could do better. To be fair I know I could have done better at her age but did not, so I am not judging. Any other advice or suggestions? Her family would not be able to pay the difference, and she is unlikely to receive much if anything in financial aid.
Not worth it for an art degree. Even with scholarships, she'll go into huge debt for a degree that will not pay the bills. If she wanted to be an engineer, doctor, or was interested in any number of professions that pay well then it'd be a different story.

Are there any cheaper state schools that would be an option?
mxs wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:06 pm
She is not very math inclined, but I could see an English or foreign language double major having benefits and opportunities.
The problem with this is that a bachelor's degree has been normalized in the United States over the last few decades. It's the new high school diploma. Without some sort of very specific useful degree like engineering or going on to grad school, it's difficult to justify spending this kind of money on an undergraduate degree when the job prospects are dim compared to what it was like back in the day when college actually meant something.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by bloom2708 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:29 pm

+1 to look at a state school with an art program with a good reputation.

Business Administration/Art
Accounting/Art

Pair it with something to fall back on.

I would not encourage her to come out of college with $80k, $90k, $100K and up in student loans and only an Art degree. That is a massive hole to climb out of.

If art is the dream and she is uber talented, then maybe alternatives to a 4 year traditional college education should be pursued.
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:53 pm

My sister got her art degree and found that her former jobs in food service and retail paid more than anything she could find in her field. She took a 6 month paralegal course and has worked in that field for over 30 years. She's given us nice drawings of our cats.

I understand that this is probably her passion and I know a lot of people who have music as a passion and know quite a few Berklee grads who are working as car sales people and secretaries and living in their parents house because they have no chance of getting even a rented apartment on the pay they receive.

As has been said, a backup marketable degree really needs to be in the mix.
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Watty
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by Watty » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:25 pm

You may have to dig for it but it would also be good to find out that the graduation and retention rate for art majors at that college. Getting an Art degree and owing $100K is at best risky but going to two years of art school and dropping out with $50K in debt is even worse.

Some student loans are variable rate loans so she also needs to watch out for that. Rates are still near generational lows right now and a loan may look manageable now but interest rates could be a lot higher in ten or twenty years.

One more thing she should do before majoring in Art is to see if she can find an artist that makes a living at it, which may be some sort of commercial artist that does things like illustrations for ads. If she could shadow that person for part of a day they might have a more realistic expectation of what working in the art field is like.

I am an amateur photographer and I enjoy that but I have talked to enough professional photographers that I know that doing things like wedding photography or real estate photography day in and day out would not be something that I would enjoy doing. (Disclaimer: I do not know her but a niece of friend is a National Geographic photographer and if I was young and single I would love to have her job. Realistically though there are a LOT more major league athletes than there are photographers working at that level.)

The BLS is a good source of information about job statistics.

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/home.htm

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by Nate79 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:50 pm

One thing to completely strike from your conversation is that financial aid is not student loans even if the "financial" aid office calls them that. They act as if they are giving you aid when in fact they are mortgaging your niece's future. Don't fall for this lie pushed by colleges. Call them what they are - loans, debt, etc. Not aid.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by p14175 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:53 pm

Great! You have (maybe?) $50k for the first year, but what about the next 3-4 years? Scholarship hunting isn't a lot of fun, but it's better than taking out student loans.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by TSR » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:18 pm

mxs wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:24 pm
I am helping my niece get ready for college and we got some good news. She was accepted to a school and offered 20k in scholarships from the school. The bad news is the school is more than 50k a year. The wild card is that she is eligible for another scholarship but it is for an undetermined amount and the award isn't announced until about July. It could be 10k, it could be 30k, I just don't know. I would lean closer to 10k than 30k. I told her to look for any and all other scholarships, ask the financial aid office for scholarship info, and ask her high school art teachers ( she is an artist and plans on studying art ) for any information they may have. She is working and saving, but I'm sure she could do better. To be fair I know I could have done better at her age but did not, so I am not judging. Any other advice or suggestions? Her family would not be able to pay the difference, and she is unlikely to receive much if anything in financial aid.
1. Is this a well known liberal-arts school at which she wants to study art, or an art school? If it's the former, then I think that some of the doubts are unfounded (a degree in art or art history from, say, Middlebury, is a lot more versatile than one from, say, Pratt or SCAD). If it's just art then the price may be steep unless it's a top-of-the-field school.

2. Did her parents ever intend to pay anything for college? I ask because a lot of people view student loans as this thing that only the students could pay. But if it's just a matter of cash-flow, then your niece can take out the student loans but her parents can help her pay them off over time. In other words, they'd use her loans as a way of retroactively "saving for college." Hell, you could pitch in too, if you wanted.

Good luck -- glad to hear you're proud of your niece!

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by forgeblast » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:30 pm

I am an art teacher, have a masters in art therapy, and also sell/teach art on the side.
Any questions please feel free to ask me.
I would say thats a lot of debt to get started with,
Looking at undergrad I could have gone two years at one school or all four at a state and then
got my masters (which I did), and stayed out of a lot of debt.
What part of art is she looking at? There are a lot of subsets and I would recommend highly
getting minors in computer programming/business/etc something that does not
lock her fully into art. A friend of mine is studio art with programming and works for Amazon.
But I also have friends who are studio art and working as linemen in the electric company....

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by WalterMitty » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:41 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:53 pm
My sister got her art degree and found that her former jobs in food service and retail paid more than anything she could find in her field. She took a 6 month paralegal course and has worked in that field for over 30 years. She's given us nice drawings of our cats.

I understand that this is probably her passion and I know a lot of people who have music as a passion and know quite a few Berklee grads who are working as car sales people and secretaries and living in their parents house because they have no chance of getting even a rented apartment on the pay they receive.

As has been said, a backup marketable degree really needs to be in the mix.
maybe without trying...and I mean no disrespect...but the bold line above in the context of your post made me LOL. :D

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by mxs » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:46 pm

This is a very established Liberal Arts school. She could study almost anything there, and go pre-med or start on engineering or higher degrees if she wanted and was interested. She has shown interest and ability in Art, but that could easily change in her first year or two. I do like the idea of looking at the "finish line" as in career, and working from end goal to start. I will encourage her to think about that.

Her father and mother-in-law make likely too much for her to qualify for much financial aid, it would probably be loans or self pay for the remaining balance. To my knowledge they haven't saved much if any money for this, and I don't think they exactly handle money well either. Her mother is deceased which qualifies her for the aforementioned wild card scholarship. She could go to the local community college and transfer to the 4 year school later, although she would have to be careful with course selection so that the courses transfer for full credit. I know from experience that transferring credits from the liberal arts school to state schools is not easy. I am not sure about the other way around, but if she went that route I would make sure she takes classes that transfer as much as possible.

The community college cost to attend is roughly 6k a year not including room and board. I know I would personally do the transfer route if it was me today, but as I said you have to look closely at the transfer of credits and all that.

The scholarships from the school would continue each year if good grades are made, as would the other scholarship.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by WalterMitty » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:50 pm

This thread is a small slice of what's going on with the $1.3 trillion in school debt that today's youth (and not so youthful) are drowning in.

I totally support folks who want to pursue their passion, money making be damned, just so long as they do it with eyes wide open.

I read article after article, and listen to a Death Sex & Money podcast about student debt...and the overwhelming majority are about folks feeling like victims, pointing blame at lenders and schools, and taking almost zero personal responsibility.

If you're smart enough to finish high school, take the ACT/SAT, and fill out a college admissions application, then you should be smart enough to 1) know that a loan is a loan, not a gift, and if you borrow $100, you will be paying back $100 AND some juice on that money, and 2) you should be able to google what jobs pay for the major you are pursuing. After that, borrowing $100K or $200K to get a degree majoring in Dead Languages or Cave Painting is on you.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by MP173 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:57 pm

Advise above is to double major and I would suggest a Marketing degree along with the art degree.

I have mentored young men and women fresh out of school in the past and have been amazed at the amount of student debt some have had. Not a good situation.

This is a tough situation....she no doubt wishes to follow dreams and here you are trying to determine whether or not you should apply brakes to those aspirations. Good luck...

Ed

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by psteinx » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:15 pm

My oldest daughter had a major passion for art. Was supposedly considered by her art teachers as the best they'd seen, etc., "must go into art". This is/was at a decent sized, good quality suburban middle and high school, for what it's worth.

She took AP Art in her junior year in HS, and the students were encouraged to visit a sort of college fair aimed at prospective art students. I think it was a mix of art schools and regular schools with art majors and such - don't remember for sure. Anyways, there were perhaps 200-300 kids there, in our midwestern city. Most had brought their portfolios with them, and so, we (my daughter and myself - I accompanied her), could see what other bright HS students were creating. Some of their portfolios were unimpressive, but there were a LOT of really strong artists there. It maybe wasn't an instantaneous thunderclap moment, but over time I think it sunk in that there are a lot of strong young artists out there, and the job market for fine artists is not that big.

We also included the Art Institute of Chicago in a college road tour we did (I think before the art fair thing). It did not impress us. (FWIW, she was much more impressed by the Stamps art school within U of Michigan, but that interest faded over time...)

So, overall, the interest in art as a college/career focus faded. There were other factors too.

Bottom line, your niece may love art (it can be a lot of fun), and may have a lot of talent at it. But there are many many others in a similar position, competing for a limited job market. Exposing her to the level of competition she'd likely face may cause her to rethink her direction.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by focusedonwhatmatters » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:26 pm

mxs wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:46 pm
This is a very established Liberal Arts school. She could study almost anything there, and go pre-med or start on engineering or higher degrees if she wanted and was interested. She has shown interest and ability in Art, but that could easily change in her first year or two. I do like the idea of looking at the "finish line" as in career, and working from end goal to start. I will encourage her to think about that.

Her father and mother-in-law make likely too much for her to qualify for much financial aid, it would probably be loans or self pay for the remaining balance. To my knowledge they haven't saved much if any money for this, and I don't think they exactly handle money well either. Her mother is deceased which qualifies her for the aforementioned wild card scholarship. She could go to the local community college and transfer to the 4 year school later, although she would have to be careful with course selection so that the courses transfer for full credit. I know from experience that transferring credits from the liberal arts school to state schools is not easy. I am not sure about the other way around, but if she went that route I would make sure she takes classes that transfer as much as possible.

The community college cost to attend is roughly 6k a year not including room and board. I know I would personally do the transfer route if it was me today, but as I said you have to look closely at the transfer of credits and all that.

The scholarships from the school would continue each year if good grades are made, as would the other scholarship.
Kudos to you for helping your niece. As an only-living parent myself, I sure appreciate when someone looks out for my kids.

I am in the minority, but I think there is far more value to an education than what it costs up front. Losing her mother at a young age was enough loss. I think she should go. It sounds like a top-notch school with a plethora of opportunity. I disagree with taking a year off, going to community college, or working to save up. Community college may be cheaper on paper, but she might not be challenged or be among intellectual peers. She has earned $30K in scholarships already, without trying very hard. Other scholarships are out there.

If I may ask, how did her mother die? There are private scholarships to be had for various diseases. My son has earned some and applied for others.

I am also curious about the college scholarship you mentioned that she was qualified for because of the death of her mother. That may be something I should look into.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by livesoft » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:32 pm

What about architecture or building design? My daughter was decent in art and had her artwork win competitions. She became an engineer.
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by finite_difference » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:45 pm

If she studies something “useful”, that is something that prepares you for a decent job (that pays decently and is in demand), then $20k/year would be worth it.

Otherwise I think she needs some help from her Aunt/Uncle, who as a Bogleheads, is likely able to afford this school ;)

But I don’t see how the choice is only between $20k/year and community college for $6k/year? Nothing in the middle? With $30k in scholarships she must be a good student. Don’t let her waste her potential.
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:50 pm

Ask school to provide a schedule showing the monthly nut needed to repay student loans for next 120 months after graduation. Sometimes it seems these schools make it appear that you are getting something “scholarships” when in reality they are baking these “discounts” to a marked up price in the first instance.

Ask school to provide proof that graduates majoring in Art actually a) found gainful employment within 6 months to a year in chosen major field that enabled them to pay back student loan on time and b) were able to put food on table, clothes on back and pay rent without having to incur more debt to do so.

You will never get that answer in writing - ever. Don’t take on $120k of debt for a lifetime of indentured work. Do-overs are very costly when your debt burden is that high. She needs to have a fall back school (4 year senior college, not community college - look, there are plenty of 4 year schools out there that are “good”, good enough to get her to the next phase of life) that does not cost so much (they are out there), especially if grad school is in the cards.
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by mxs » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:13 am

focusedonwhatmatters wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:26 pm
mxs wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:46 pm
This is a very established Liberal Arts school. She could study almost anything there, and go pre-med or start on engineering or higher degrees if she wanted and was interested. She has shown interest and ability in Art, but that could easily change in her first year or two. I do like the idea of looking at the "finish line" as in career, and working from end goal to start. I will encourage her to think about that.

Her father and mother-in-law make likely too much for her to qualify for much financial aid, it would probably be loans or self pay for the remaining balance. To my knowledge they haven't saved much if any money for this, and I don't think they exactly handle money well either. Her mother is deceased which qualifies her for the aforementioned wild card scholarship. She could go to the local community college and transfer to the 4 year school later, although she would have to be careful with course selection so that the courses transfer for full credit. I know from experience that transferring credits from the liberal arts school to state schools is not easy. I am not sure about the other way around, but if she went that route I would make sure she takes classes that transfer as much as possible.

The community college cost to attend is roughly 6k a year not including room and board. I know I would personally do the transfer route if it was me today, but as I said you have to look closely at the transfer of credits and all that.

The scholarships from the school would continue each year if good grades are made, as would the other scholarship.
Kudos to you for helping your niece. As an only-living parent myself, I sure appreciate when someone looks out for my kids.

I am in the minority, but I think there is far more value to an education than what it costs up front. Losing her mother at a young age was enough loss. I think she should go. It sounds like a top-notch school with a plethora of opportunity. I disagree with taking a year off, going to community college, or working to save up. Community college may be cheaper on paper, but she might not be challenged or be among intellectual peers. She has earned $30K in scholarships already, without trying very hard. Other scholarships are out there.

If I may ask, how did her mother die? There are private scholarships to be had for various diseases. My son has earned some and applied for others.

I am also curious about the college scholarship you mentioned that she was qualified for because of the death of her mother. That may be something I should look into.
The scholarship she is eligible for due to her mother's death is a local one restricted to local residency that can only be used at two or three colleges. Her mother had a seizure while driving and was in a fatal car accident. Fortunately she was the only person in her vehicle and the only person hurt in the accident.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by Sandi_k » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:43 am

WalterMitty wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:50 pm

I read article after article, and listen to a Death Sex & Money podcast about student debt...and the overwhelming majority are about folks feeling like victims, pointing blame at lenders and schools, and taking almost zero personal responsibility.
I work at a top-tier university. I would never encourage a child of mine to attend a college at $50k per year for a minimum of 4 years, and only able to fund a small portion thereof.'

Totally agree with PP who recommended two year AA and then transfer to the 4 year university.

And *totally* agree that your niece and her parents should listen to the above-referenced 2 part podcast on student loan debt in America.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by 3CT_Paddler » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:40 am

livesoft wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:32 pm
What about architecture or building design? My daughter was decent in art and had her artwork win competitions. She became an engineer.
+1. Architecture (or Landscape Architecture) would be a great major to look at as a way to have an avenue for artistic expression, but still pay the bills.

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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by riverguy » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:11 am

You're doing her a tremendous disservice if you let her attend a $50k/yr school for an art degree even with $30k in scholarships.

mxs
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by mxs » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:51 am

Thank you everyone for the advice. We are going Friday and will get the financial aid package then. Some of it will be grants, and some will be loans I am sure. I just want to get the actual picture in front of us with real numbers. I found a good transfer guide on the community college's website for going to the four year school, so we can look at all the options. I am thinking she can go to the community college for free (or close) for two years then go to the four year school for about 15-20k cost to her a year. If she saves for the first two years she may be able to do the last two for close to paid for.

focusedonwhatmatters
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by focusedonwhatmatters » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:34 am

mxs wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:13 am
focusedonwhatmatters wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:26 pm
mxs wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:46 pm
The scholarship she is eligible for due to her mother's death is a local one restricted to local residency that can only be used at two or three colleges. Her mother had a seizure while driving and was in a fatal car accident. Fortunately she was the only person in her vehicle and the only person hurt in the accident.
That is very sad. I am glad this very small consolation is available to her.

TheDDC
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by TheDDC » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:55 am

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:50 pm
Ask school to provide a schedule showing the monthly nut needed to repay student loans for next 120 months after graduation. Sometimes it seems these schools make it appear that you are getting something “scholarships” when in reality they are baking these “discounts” to a marked up price in the first instance.

Ask school to provide proof that graduates majoring in Art actually a) found gainful employment within 6 months to a year in chosen major field that enabled them to pay back student loan on time and b) were able to put food on table, clothes on back and pay rent without having to incur more debt to do so.

You will never get that answer in writing - ever. Don’t take on $120k of debt for a lifetime of indentured work. Do-overs are very costly when your debt burden is that high. She needs to have a fall back school (4 year senior college, not community college - look, there are plenty of 4 year schools out there that are “good”, good enough to get her to the next phase of life) that does not cost so much (they are out there), especially if grad school is in the cards.
I agree with this. My wife and I are convinced college tuition at current levels (adjusting for inflation) is simply unsustainable in the long term. It is the next growing bubble and is also going to be the reason the next generation to retire hasn't saved what they should. I don't know how this could NOT be the elephant in the room for bogleheads. There needs to be a disclosure on real world costs of college debt before money changes hands. Just like the loads of stuff that I find in my credit card bill regarding paying the minimum cost.

And I disagree wholeheartedly with the notion that you throw financial concerns aside when looking at higher education costs. Art/poetry is fine as a second major. But the focus should be on ROI when pursuing a college major in real dollars. It should essentially be a self financing venture. Here is where I DO blame colleges and financial companies.

If there is a shortfall forecasted long term, why not pursue a community college to get the Gen Ed courses finished before forking over $$$ for that?

-TheDDC

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:02 am

Is the $20K scholarship $20K, or $20K per year?

She is not going to be able to take out enough loans on her own to pay for this. $5500 is the max federal (Stafford) loan for a freshman. For any additional debt, someone will have to co-sign. I strongly recommend against this.

mxs
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by mxs » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:55 am

The 20k from the school is each year and the 10k extra scholarship is each year as well. So 30k of the 50k should be covered each year. That is not including any additional grants or scholarships.

Constant Chaos
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by Constant Chaos » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:17 pm

I would go read the Financial Aid and Scholarship section of College Confidential and post your question there.

Two issues I see:

1. Does her school allow her to "stack" any outside scholarships she gets on top of the aid and grants the school gives her? According to what I've read on CC, some schools do NOT. That is, they reduce their aid by the amount of any outside aid you get. Have no idea if this is common or which schools do it, but I have seen it mentioned many times.

2. Many schools offer their most generous aid and grants for freshmen. There is sometimes little to none for transfer students. So if you are going to consider the community college plan, find out how the schools treat transfer students; dont just assume it's the same as what they offer freshmen.

ncbill
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by ncbill » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:49 pm

mxs wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:55 am
The 20k from the school is each year and the 10k extra scholarship is each year as well. So 30k of the 50k should be covered each year. That is not including any additional grants or scholarships.
So she got the "wild card" scholarship but it is only for $10k/year (not $30k)?

Or is she still waiting?

$20k/year total is about what we'd pay for a public school (in-state rates) here.

feehater
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by feehater » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:23 pm

I know you are on the right track with looking into this, but I would be really, really, really careful with thinking the community college credits will transfer in. The guide for transferring you need to look at is the one from the 4 year college, not the community college. If it's a prestigious liberal arts college they very well might not recognize any credits from a community college, period. Even if they do, every department might have its own policies about accepting the credits, especially if it's towards your major. Sometimes it might even be up to the individual professor. This could especially be true if it is a separate degree (BFA, instead of BA for instance), which might have a very small core curriculum outside of art (20 hours or even less). Is there a sequence in the major that is required to start at the beginning and lasts 3 or 4 years? Has anyone ever transferred in to the department like that, and were they successful at getting out in the time promised? I don't know anything about art, but in music this is a big problem, and I hear more and more stories of people showing up after two years of community college only to find out that it will still take them 3-4 years to get a BMus. Especially in states where community college is becoming free.

You came to a financial forum and you're getting financial advice. I'd just argue that if it is truly an elite liberal arts college (Swarthmore, Williams, top 20, etc) the major matters much less than the degree. If you had said she wanted to major in English or some liberal arts, you might have had less pushback. The assumption would have been that she could do many things with that degree from a good school (pre-law, pre-med, teach, graduate degrees, business, etc.). She can do any of these things as well. Note that none of those would meet the "gainfully employed in the field of her major within 6 months" test either. I'm not saying that she should be naive or sheltered from the harsh reality of trying to make it as a working artist. I'm only saying that if it's a really great school with lots of options inside and outside of art, we don't need to immediately act like she has already thrown her life away. I know people with music degrees (from my academically good university) who are doctors, lawyers, business executives, and wouldn't trade the path they took to get there. In fact, some of them took advantage of the lower admissions standards and bigger scholarship pot that the music program had and ended up with an well regarded degree from a university they might otherwise not have gotten into or gotten a scholarship from.

Another question I just thought of is if the scholarships are attached to the major? If she does decide to double major or even switch majors, does she lose the scholarship?

Constant Chaos
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by Constant Chaos » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:54 pm

feehater wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:23 pm


if it is truly an elite liberal arts college (Swarthmore, Williams, top 20, etc)
OP said it was an established liberal arts school, not an elite one. Swarthmore and Williams and their ilk are at 66, 67k per year.

mxs
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by mxs » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:47 pm

Yes, this is a school that has been around for more than 100 years, but I wouldn't call it an elite school. She hasn't had to declare a major or anything like that; her school scholarships are tied to her past academic performance and possibly somewhat her relatives that have attended in the past. Her choice of major could change or expand to a double major or major/minor and not be strictly an Art major.

There is another scholarship that we found out about that she is likely to get for another 1k or so. We are still looking into more scholarships and grants so hopefully the numbers get better from here.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:01 pm

Have she and her parents submitted FAFSA? Whether her father/step-mom intend to pay or not, they at least have to fill out the forms for her to qualify for aid, unless she is over 24 or otherwise independent.

mxs
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Re: Help me help my niece (College costs, financial aid, etc)

Post by mxs » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:22 pm

Yes, FAFSA is done. She is submitting an application for the community college now in case this four year school doesn't work out.

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