You know I am a big believer in the value of a college education. With one catch. The cost of obtaining a degree must be affordable for the student. Yes, the student. Parents are to focus on saving for retirement; I can’t endorse parents paying and borrowing for college if it means not saving enough for their retirement.
The worst thing a student can do is borrow too much. What’s too much? College financing expert Mark Kantrowitz advises students to limit their total borrowing to no more than what they think they will earn in their first year of work. Limiting your borrowing to that amount gives you an excellent shot at paying off your loans in the standard 10-year period. So if entry-level jobs for a given career pay $40,000, then you would want to limit your borrowing to no more than $40,000.
That can be the cost of just a year or two at some private universities. And it may not cover a full four years at an in-state school.
That’s where community college can be a smart option. You may in fact find that a 2-year associate’s degree at a community college is all the additional education you need for your desired career. Not everyone needs a 4-year degree.
But if you are pursuing a career where a 4-year degree is required, starting at a community college and then transferring to an in-state school can save you tens of thousands of dollars, as the cost of community college is about 1/3 the cost of an in-state four-year school.
To make this move pay off you need to be smart and strategic. Some tips: