guliver wrote: ↑
Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:36 am
We're foreign, and we (or our parents) never paid tuition in our life. So we're not used to the idea.
Something to consider is that high-income parents are worse than no parents or low-income parents, in the American system.
If the child can achieve age 24, get married, join the military, or otherwise demonstrate financial independence in a way that typically would involve a gap between high school and college in order to get a job and pay their own expenses in a separate residence -- if they, in short, can check one of the boxes for being independent on the FAFSA -- they will be eligible for all the need-based grants and interest-deferred loans that are available. Some of these are not merit based, so they're a sure thing, if you are not saddled with high-income parents. They may also be eligible for a much larger scholarship package at universities that offer those.
If the parents have low income (or "low" middle class income, like the median household income of $50-$60k), then most of the same stuff applies, with some minor dings that won't seriously impair the student's ability to get need-based financial aid.
High-income parents, from the get-go, in a very real way create a financial burden on students entering college after high school.
The American system goes so far as to restrict the kinds of student loans that these students are eligible for. Many of these students can't even get all the student loans that they may need to be originally titled in their own names. The loans may have to be titled in their parent's names; alternatively, the student may take on a consumer loan on the basis of their own credit that doesn't benefit from the single digit interest rates of student loans.
Some parents informally make an agreement with students to have the loans re-titled in their names, or in any case paid by the student. There are companies that can refinance the loan for the student after college, such as SoFi, but they require excellent credit and a good job.
There are some loopholes. As mentioned, you can get the student to be independent first. They may have to take a gap after high school to establish themselves, but they could. Alternatively, the student might be offered a sweet merit-based scholarship anyway. It's important to apply to a lot of colleges and a variety of colleges (including lower-ranked ones as well as well-endowed ones) to increase the odds. The student might be going into a well-compensated field, so they might be able to pay down the debt quickly without breaking a sweat. Alternatively -- and unethically -- if the student foregoes the student loans entirely and somehow (...) manages to get enough scrapped together with consumer loans, on their own credit and name, without a cosigner, they can always get a fresh start if necessary with BK. However, bankruptcy (virtually always) cannot discharge student loans.
Every situation is unique, so nobody can tell you what you "should" do, but these are some aspects of this system to understand.