We thought a lot about how to save money when we had six teenagers. Getting them all through braces was nothing compared to the thought of getting them all through college. For several years, we’d have three in college at the same time.
To be clear, we never expected to be able to foot the entire bill for all of their education. They’d have to come up with 50% themselves, either by working or taking out loans. Still, the one thing that was really making us sweat our part was the alarming trend of students taking 5 or even 6 years to graduate.
We supported the idea of our kids going away to college because we felt that experience was a big part of the education process. They needed to make decisions for themselves – good and bad – and feel the consequences. But they didn’t need to take 5 or 6 years to do that. And we didn’t want to pay for it.
Our Money Saving Deal
So when our kids started high school, we made them this deal.
- They would earn their bachelor degree in 3 years (not 4, definitely not 5 or 6).
- We would give them $5,000 cash upon graduation.
- They could use this money for a used car, to set themselves up in an apartment, or whatever they needed at the time.
In order to graduate in three years, the kids would have to earn college credits while still in high school. They could do this through Advanced Placement classes. They would also have to take summer and/or winter term classes, at a local community college or on-line, throughout their high school and college years. We acknowledged it would cramp their summer social life.My husband and I figured we would save about $6,000 per year, per kid, if they accepted our terms. Click To TweetMy husband and I figured we would still save money – about $6,000 per year, per kid, if they accepted our terms. What sweetened the deal for us was the realization the $5K we’d give them would mean they wouldn’t be asking us for help with an apartment or transportation after graduation when they got a job. More savings for us!
Only one of our six took the deal and executed it. She worked hard and graduated from a private Christian university in three years – debt free. The others took different paths. One got a full 4-year scholarship, one enlisted in the military, one attended community college and got married, and two are paying student loans for their 4 years at a private college. Turns out we didn’t pay for all six after all.
It’s been 7 years since our last kid graduated from college. A program that has taken off since then is called Concurrent Enrollment. A student in this program earns high school and college credit at the same time. They graduate high school with an associates degree and only have two years left to complete their bachelor degree. That will save money. I think there’s a deal to be made if they can do it in one.