How much did you have saved when you were 18? I’ll bet this recent high school grad has you beat. Robyn Bri, an 18-year-old from Marin, CA, has saved close to $100,000 on her own by dog walking, babysitting, and working at a local diner.
I wrote about Robyn’s phenomenal story for Forbes.
You can also check out her full interview with NewRetirement here.
I’ve mentioned before that my parents did not have any money set aside for my college education. I don’t blame them. I was the third of seven kids in a firmly middle-class family. Keeping all of us fed and in good health must have been a major financial undertaking. I spent many years working my way through college and eventually took out a few student loans to finish up my last few semesters.
My husband’s parents didn’t help him pay for college, either. His parents prioritized their retirement savings – as they should. He worked all summer and during the semester to pay for tuition, books and other expenses. He made it through college debt-free but lived on condiment sandwiches for most of his college years because he couldn’t afford groceries. Lest you think I’m exaggerating, he literally ate condiment sandwiches. He must’ve developed a taste for it because to this day, ketchup and mustard make up a large segment of our grocery budget.
For these reasons, we started saving for our son’s college education shortly after he was born.
Virtually everyone thinks saving for college is important, but according to the College Savings Foundation, just over half are actually putting money away for their child’s education. Less than half have more than $5,000 saved. With the projected cost of a four-year degree from a public in-state university nearing $100,000 by 2033 (nearly $325,000 at a private college), there is not much time to cover the gap.
Meanwhile, the student loan debt crisis is being blamed for the slow growth of the US economy, since students graduating with mountains of debt aren’t buying homes and cars and the other major purchases that drive economic growth.
There are plenty of arguments to be made against paying for your child’s education, including some studies that suggest that students who pay their own way do better in school. Based on my own experience, this rings true. My college boyfriend’s parents paid his way through college and insisted he not work during the semester so he could concentrate on school. His concentration was more focused on the nightclub than the classroom and he barely eked out a four-year degree in six years. We fought often about his lack of interest in the education that was being handed to him on a silver platter while I struggled to pay my own way.
Our parents are quick to remind us that we don’t owe our son a college education. That may be true, but we believe that saving for his education ensures that our son won’t graduate from college deeply in debt before he even starts his career. We want to raise him to be financially independent, but one of the largest barriers to achieving financial independence is the rising cost of college tuition and student loan debt.
I believe we’re putting the right financial priorities ahead of college savings: we have an emergency fund and we are not prioritizing college savings over our own retirement. According to this college cost calculator, we’ll have enough to cover about 50% of a four-year degree at an in-state public university. (Bear down!) He’ll probably have to try to get scholarships and work a few hours a week during college, and that’s just fine.
Interestingly enough, both of our parents are now making regular contributions to our son’s 529 plan, so I guess they believe in saving for college after all.
I graduated from Morrison University in Reno, Nevada in 2006. Morrison University had been in the Reno area for more than 100 years. My professors were respected professionals, including one who served on the Nevada State Board of Accountancy. Many of my classmates were working professionals with years of experience in their fields who’d been told by their managers that they couldn’t rise any higher in the company without a diploma.
Morrison University made sense. They offered an accelerated program and the option for all evening classes to accommodate a full-time job. Shortly after I enrolled, Morrison was purchased by the now-defunct Anthem Education. In 2014, Morrison University closed its doors.
My experience at a for-profit school was a good one. I’d struggled to get the classes I needed at the University of Nevada Reno for years. It was not possible to work a full-time 9 to 5 job and get a bachelor’s degree in accounting at UNR. Morrison University allowed me to transfer the credits I’d earned and finish up my degree in two years.
Unfortunately, my experience is not the norm. Many for-profit universities have lied to students, encouraging them to rack up tens of thousands of dollars for degrees that are worthless.
Yet I believe for-profit universities have a purpose. They serve a population that for whatever reason is not served by state universities and community colleges. I hope that sharing my experience can help other students considering a for-profit university know what questions to ask and how to recognize those universities that put their bottom line ahead of students’ education.
I hope change comes for for-profit universities so they can continue to provide an alternative for non-traditional students. I hope more people who have had positive experiences with for-profit universities can talk about them so we can remove the stigma of a for-profit degree.
Have you had an experience at a for-profit university? What are your thoughts?