When faced with college selection and applications, many home-school parents feel intimidated and inadequate. They wonder, “Don’t you need a high school counselor to help you choose a school?” The good news, however, is that as a home-school parent, you know your student better than anyone else, and you are completely capable of helping them through the college application process.
Zac Bissonnette, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and author of “Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships or Mooching Off My Parents,” warns parents: “Families should recognize that higher education is a business, backed by Madison Avenue-scale marketing, and the advice they receive is likely to be biased. High school counselors encourage students to apply to ‘name’ colleges to boost the high school’s reputation. College financial aid officers have a vested interest in getting students to enroll, no matter what the cost. And the media, with its rankings of top schools, exploits parental anxieties.”
In contrast, home-school parents can encourage their students to apply to a college that fits the student and their financial situation. It’s amazingly simple. Parents know more about their child and their financial situation than a high school counselor. With that information in hand, the best advice is to apply for a variety of colleges.
Bissonnette’s article gives several other helpful tips:
- Start a 529 college savings plan
- Maximize scholarships and grants first
- Beware of financial aid package that aren’t automatically renewed
- Do not borrow more for than your expected starting salary
- Overborrowing may spoil your other life plans
I love his conclusion. It’s a great way to explain what “loan” means to teenagers, in terms they can understand. “If you borrow, double the cost of everything you buy with the loan money — because that’s the real cost of the loan including interest. That $10 pizza is really $20. The $4 latte is $8. And that $100,000 boondoggle to Australia is a whopping $200,000 — an amount that borrower will likely be paying off for decades to come.”
It’s possible to go to college without using loans. Save money along the way, prepare your child well, make sure they are presented to the college in a positive way, etc. A college-prep high school experience, along with carefully choosing the college and preparing great homeschool records are big pieces of the puzzle!