debtpuppet

Living, Laughing & Loving… while in debt.

Why My Parents Almost Got Divorced So I Could Afford College

I understand that this headline is a little jarring- but it wasn’t meant for shock value. It demonstrates the sad reality of the financial hardship of higher education and properly illustrates the damaged foundation it’s build on.

d

There are a lot of variables upon beginning the discussion on higher education, because there are a lot of options after one graduates from school. However, I believe we can all agree that furthering your education – whether that be studying a trade or getting a degree, is essential to surviving outside of the artistic realm, being an entrepreneur or taking over a family business. For those who are unable to pursue the previous three options- you will usually need to be employed by a business. These businesses often don’t even finish looking at your resume if you’ve only obtained a high school education.

When pursuing  a degree, there are many options you have. My mistake was choosing to go to a private university, which was something that I didn’t quite understand at 17, but definitely understand now.  “According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013–2014 school year [is] $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities” (“What’s The Price Tag,” 2014).

Let’s use the figure of $22,203 for example. You apply for a school and get accepted. Hooray! Now, let’s figure out how you are going to afford this! If you are currently living under your parent’s roof, which most teenagers in high school are, they automatically use your parent’s income to determine financial aid. There are two main problems with this. The first is that in under a year you will be 18, so according to the law, your parents no longer have to support you financially. The second is that even if you do have parents that want to foot the bill for your college education, some frankly cannot afford to. For example, when compiling my parent’s information and incomes, they refused to take into consideration steep medical bills my parents were still paying back from my younger brother having cancer. Both of these problems ignore the blatant fact that these students from middle-class families will inevitably be paying their way by use of student loans. In effect, offspring of families that these schools view as middle-class end up being forced to take out debilitating, high-interest private loans to pay full tuition with very little to no federal financial aid. Why? Simply because it looks like on paper that their parents, who are NOT bound by law to support them after the age of 18, could, possibly be able to pay.

Well could and possibly are huge variables when talking about $88,812.

Now let’s look at who isn’t paying $88,812 for the same education:

Teenagers from divorced families (claiming the income of the parent they live with)
Teenagers from one-parent homes
Teenagers from low-income households

These are three of the groups that are given financial aid, federal grants and federal loans to attend college.

In no way am I advocating that teenagers from any of the family types above shouldn’t receive the financial aid that they do- in fact- I think it is great. My main point is that once thrust into the world post college graduation all of these young adults are now on the same playing field in many ways. They have the same education. They have the same opportunities. However, what isn’t the same is their student loan debt.

Here’s a mock case study to further illustrate my point:

A is from a middle-income family whose parents are still together. She chose to go to college at USA University. After considering her parents combined incomes they determine to offer A no financial aid. Therefore, A will be financing $22,203 per year through a private loan from her bank, at a 9 percent interest rate*. Her parents have not offered to help with tuition. When entering the work-force A will have 96,505.08 dollars in student loan debt that she will be solely responsible for.

B is from a middle-income family whose parents are divorced. She chose to go to college at USA University. After considering her mother’s income, they determine to offer B a federal grant of $10,000 per semester and a federal loan for the remainder of her tuition. Therefore, B will be financing $12,203 per year through a federal loan at a 4 percent interest rate*. Her parents have not offered to help with tuition. When entering the work-force B will have 50,764.48 dollars in student loan debt that she will be solely responsible for.

C is from a low-income family. She chose to go to college at USA University. After considering her parent’s income, they determine to offer C a federal grant of $15,000 per semester and a federal loan for the remainder of her tuition. Therefore, C will be financing $7,203 per year through a federal loan at a 4 percent interest rate*. Her parents have not offered to help with tuition. When entering the work-force C will have 29,964.48 dollars in student loan debt that she will be solely responsible for.

*Just for perspective, typical private loans have an interest rate of 8-12 percent, while federal loans have an interest rate of 3-4 percent.

Now, let’s say A, B and C all get $50,000 dollar per year jobs upon college graduation. Student A is clearly starting life out with a major setback and debilitating monthly payments compared to the other two students. And why? Because her parents have a “high enough” combined income that they could be able to pay for her tuition. Oh, and because they’re married.

Therefore, as proud as I am of my parents, and as lucky as I am to have grown up in the situation I was – in the end, it actually ended up setting me back financially, post-graduation.

4 comments on “Why My Parents Almost Got Divorced So I Could Afford College

  1. CJ
    March 14, 2014

    I wish I could get a $50k/year job like A,B, and C.

  2. Mark
    March 14, 2014

    I grew up in a single parent household with middle-low income and still received no grants. Currently in over $100k worth of debt via private student loans at a rate of about 8%. After graduation got a job making over $50,000, however, am currently paying $1200 per month (keep in mind majority if this is interest). That is a mortgage payment. Not sure how sending children to college under this premise “helps boost the economy” as some proclaim. If it weren’t for these debilitating loans I would have already purchased my own home. But, instead am stuck living with my parent for the foreseeable future.

  3. TK
    March 17, 2014

    This always pissed me off. I remember going to the financial aid office at my college looking for help. I found out that if my parents combined income was just $1,000 less I would be getting more from FAFSA. Luckily, every college student can take out a FAFSA loan. I think the law is such that there is a minimum amount they offer. That’s what I got. You could say I was smart because I chose a public, in-state college, but I still think students should go to whatever college they choose. They just need to choose their dream college with financial factors in mind. I was told that, while private colleges do tend to be more expensive, they also offer enough scholarships to even the playing field. I have no proof of the accuracy of that statement. It’s hard as hell to get scholarships.

  4. martyfnemec
    April 28, 2014

    The government also thought my single dad was rich enough to pay for me to go to school as I wasn’t able to get a single dollar of financial aid. He did help some and I had to take out loans. I definitely wish the government had assessed the situation better, but I was smart about my loans and schooling, so I’m not too bad now after graduating.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on March 14, 2014 by in Post-College Rants and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Navigation

debtpuppet Live Twitter

Disclaimer

Any images or videos on this site are not mine and are copyright to their respective owners unless otherwise noted and were used under creative common license or fair use standards. If a photo or video is your material and you do not wish it to be on the site, please e-mail me and I will remove it immediately.

I am not certified in giving financial, psychological or any miscellaneous type of advice nor am I a licensed doctor. The suggestions and feedback offered in this blog solely derive from my own personal experiences and approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. The advice given in this blog should not be used as a substitute for actual financial or medical advice. If you are seeking actual advice on this or any other topic, I recommend that you consult with a certified professional prior to making any life decision.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

This policy is subject to change at anytime.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 86 other followers

%d bloggers like this: