Consider yourself warned!
A guide for those who think they want children.
Since I’ve been going through this college process with my son, the recent college admissions scandals really hit home. Now, I’m not in the position to pay people off to ensure that my children get into the college of their choice, but after going through this experience with my son, I can understand why parents were doing this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it is the right thing to do, nor am I condoning this bad behavior. All I am saying is, I understand.
The competition these kids face is fierce. My son is a smart kid. He attends a specialized high school in New York City and makes good grades. Yet, he didn’t get into his first-choice college. I can understand that. That college was his reach school. He didn’t get into his second-choice college either. I don’t understand that. That school was well within his reach. Now, he gets to choose between his third-choice schools, which are still good schools. But not the ones that he had his heart set on.
I know that he is disappointed that he didn’t get into some of these schools. I’m disappointed too. I know that life is unfair and that we can’t sugar coat everything for our children. I know that our kids have to learn how to deal with disappointment and rejection. But, the Emotional Mom in me wants to give him everything his heart desires. I would love to spoil him. However, Rational Mom in me knows not to do that as it will only set him up for failure. And, the Financial Mom in me says, “Girl, I don’t think so.”
Once these kids get into college, you need to look at the financial aid package that’s offered. When my son was applying to college, I knew that there were some schools on his list that were not financially doable. But, I encouraged him to apply because hey, you never know what kind of aid package he would get. Two of the schools he got into gave him over $20,000 in scholarships and need based aid. I was happy and relieved. It doesn’t cover all the tuition and fees, but it’s a big help. Now, here’s the reality of all of this, the total tuition/fees of one school is around $73,000 per year. That’s right, per year. The other college’s tuition/fees per year is around $47,000 per year. Bear in mind that tuition will keep on increasing each year. So, after you deduct the $20,000, that leaves roughly $53,000 and $27,000 left to pay. Per year. Guess who gets to figure out how that will get paid? And don’t forget, next year, his younger sister will be applying to college.
Of course, of the two schools, the son wants to go to the more expensive one. How do I tell him that he can’t go? All I can do I show him the numbers. Its all a number game. We knew that from the beginning of this process. This college process sucks.
My son is not alone. I’m sure there are thousands of high school seniors with awesome grade point averages who will not be able to attend their college of choice because they can’t afford to pay the tuition. So many future lawyers, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, etc., will not get the opportunity to attend. Yeah, I know that these kids can attend community college and still achieve their goals, but its just not fair (I know, life is not fair).
So, if you have small kids, I suggest that you start investing in a 529 college plan the day after they are born. At least you will have some money to help them out. It will most likely not be enough, but at least it will be something.
So, now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
If you’ve already been through the college process, what advise do you have for parents who are now going through this process?
If you read my last blog, you remember that I wrote about all the expenses relating to the whole college application process. If you haven’t read it, go back and read it. It was very informative (if I do say so myself). Since money has been on my mind, this blog is going to look at other costs related to the senior year of high school.
When your kid starts out his/her senior year of high school. The first few weeks, all you can think about is how fast the time flew. You reminisce of when you brought your kid home from the hospital. Your child was so cute. You were so tired. Then, you remember when you first left your kid with the babysitter for the first time and the guilt you felt because you couldn’t afford to stay home full-time. It goes on and on. You reflect on the first day of preschool, the first day of kindergarten, the first day of first grade. Where did the time go? Who knows? All you know is now, this school year, your child is about to graduate from high school and go off to college. You will have one less child in your home.
You’re happy for your child and sad too. This kid is going to soon be off to college. We all look forward to that day, but you can’t believe that it is really going to happen so soon. What happened to that sweet little face that used to look up at you adoringly? I’ll tell you what happened … (s)he grew up! Now, that sweet little face looks down at you and asks for money for everything! Mom, can I have some money for food? (No, there’s food in the house). Mom, can I have money to buy my girlfriend a birthday gift? (No, she’s not my girlfriend. Besides, you didn’t get me a gift for my birthday.) Mom, can I have money? I want to go shopping with my friends (Wait, are you going to buy me something? What no? Never mind then).
You get the point. But during senior year, there will be some expenses that you will just have to suck it up and pay. There are two that I have already dealt with and one that I know will be coming soon. So, let me help you get ready for when you have to deal with this. Trust me, if you have kids, your day will come.
The first expense that took me by surprise was the graduation fee. Seriously, there was a graduation fee. My son’s school had various packets. After consulting with him, he chose the middle tier packet which set me back $275. Yes, $275 for this kid to walk down the aisle. I understand that it costs money to rent the graduation gowns and that someone has to pay to print the diplomas, but come on. Does it really cost that much? Doesn’t the school get a group rate? If not, they should. There are over 900 kids in his class. Someone should pay me to sit through the graduation ceremony! That $275 got my son a yearbook, graduation cap and gown, his major stole (his high school has majors), a diploma case, and includes some unspecified graduation ceremony related expenses. In fairness, the graduation ceremony is tentatively scheduled to be held at Barclay’s Center. I guess that venue isn’t cheap. But, maybe if Barclay donated the space, they could write if off on their corporate taxes? Oh well, all I know is that I paid $275 for this kid to participate in the graduate ceremonies. What was included in the higher package? I’m glad you asked, for $325, you got everything I mentioned above plus a yearbook name plate, a senior t-shirt, a Class of 2019: blanket, duffel bag, travel mug, and charger. I was willing to get my son that package, after all, you only graduate from high school once, but thank God he didn’t want it.
The next expense is the senior picture. I must admit, one of my co-workers forewarned me about this one. But you don’t fully appreciate it until you see it for yourself. A few weeks after my son took his senior pictures, I get an email with a link to view the pictures and to place my order. The picture company is so kind. They had pre-set packages in varying price ranges. I elected to order a la carte. I really don’t need an 18 x 20 picture of my son. I know what he looks like. I have been looking at him for the last 17 years. All I need are a few 5x7s and some wallet-sized pictures to give away. Just know, at these prices, everyone will not be getting a picture. They are pretty much reserved for grandparents and me. Well, I guess I could give his sister a wallet-sized picture.
The last expense I must anticipate (I hope that this will be the last one) is prom. According to my son, those tickets will set me back around $300 (I just checked the school’s website. Single tickets are $235. If he, or rather me, pays for his girlfriend, that’s $470. They may have to go dutch)! I don’t know where this prom is going to be held, but it better be at a fantastic location with a 5-course menu.
So, get ready for senior year. As my son told me at the beginning of the school year, this year is going to cost you money!
So, now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
If your kid has already graduated from high school, what types of expenses did you have to pay for?
SassyGirlTye lives with her two wonderful teenagers in Brooklyn, New York. No matter what she says in her posts, she truly loves her children with all her heart.