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Kid and Money: How to Instill a Sense of Financial Responsibility
in Your Children

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Family Finances: Financial Intelligence”Intellectuals Beware”

Some Thoughts on Schooling — Family tBudge

Choosing a Bank

How to Invest When Your Money Supply is Short

Credit and Home Ownership

Making The Most Of Private Colleges

By Rene Tse

The heyday of a first rate education is today. Never before have college bound students enjoyed such a plethora of affordable public or private schools. Pick any spot in North America that you would like to visit, and chances are you can find a college that is right for you. How do you find a school that fits your particular needs and desires? We will share a success story of a college graduate that graduated debt free.

Choosing universities were a snap for Andrew Kositsky. Nowadays if you are a junior high or high school student heading for college, you can pick from a veritable galaxy of first rate public and private colleges. With a seemingly endless string of upscale private universities to choose from, Andrew Kositsky, of Lummi Island, Washington says, “I considered borrowing $100,000 to attend an Ivy League institution. I’d thought it would be worth it because I’d only go to college once. I wanted the decision to be made irrespective of money.” Here are three ways of getting a college degree and graduating with as little as debt as possible.

I would highly recommend going to this website:

Where you will find the top 50 best college values for those looking to go to a public college. Below are some sweet incentives offered by private colleges that can potentially have you graduating debt free? The reason why the cost of a 4 year education from private schools can cost you $180,000 is because they don’t get state funding. This is why it is more expensive to go to a private college. So, taking for granted that you’re definitely fishing in the high quality pond of private colleges, how do you limit your catch to the universities that fit your specific needs? One of the criteria if you click on the above Kiplinger link to best values in public colleges is to find a college where the average debt at graduation has a low score.

The lesson in finding the right private or public college and graduating with a very low student debt, then is to give yourself the third degree. The more tightly you define what you want-and don’t want – the happier you’ll be. Some questions to start with: what is the student / faculty ratio, what will be the total costs of a 4 year degree minus; need based aid, aid from grants, what is the average debt after graduating? Are you aware that even the most competitive colleges and universities are willing to reduce the cost of tuition just to attract the right students? You then have to ask yourself, can I be the right student?

1) Need based aid:
According to the Kiplinger college report, of the first 20 private colleges and universities in our rankings, more than half devote all or most of their dollars to a need based aid. That is good news for the student that come from either middle class or lower middle class family. So, anyone with an income of $140,000 would qualify for aid. Swarthmore college financial aid director, James Bock in Swarthmore, PA says, “If you are not very needy, your package might include loans and work study. The needier you are the more grants you get.” Mr. Bock uses his own plus the federal government’s formula to determine who qualifies for need based aid.

2) Match Your Needs – Flexible Financing:
Going to a 4 year program at a first rate private college, you assume a certain level job security when you graduate. One of the best overall colleges to go to if you have a limited budget and come out almost debt free is the Cal. Institute Of Technology in Pasadena, California. The average debt load is $5,395 after graduating. A good example is Andrew Kositsky. When he was shopping for a college a few years ago, unexpected circumstances prevented him from getting any family financial support as well as not being able to qualify for need based aid. If you are looking for a low average debt load and a first rate faculty staff, you will want to consider Caltech. How did Andrew manage to graduate from Caltech with no debt?


Andrew considered seriously borrowing $100,000 to fund his education. He is grateful he didn’t or else he would be $100,000 in debt. Andrew spoke with the financial aid director at Caltech and explained his situation. “Not only did Caltech understand in the first place, but they were willing to listen to his case even if the dynamic changed,” says Andrew. The good news is that at the end Andrew got federal and institutional aid which covered 75 percent of his educational cost and his family covered the rest.

3) Tuition Rebate or Discount:
If you have a dream of attending a private university you can achieve it. Whether you are from the housing projects, middle class or high income families, with the right attitude, you can achieve your dream of getting a college degree. Private colleges like Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. For instance, Trinity University will give a tuition rebate of $500 to students who successfully completed the first year of college.


Did you know that attending a local community college for a year or two then transferring to a 4 year university can save you and your child thousands of dollars?

Once, you’ve whittled your choice of affordable private colleges down to two or three, take a trip out to the campus and meet with the financial aid department with your exuberance on hand. Good luck with finding the right college for you.

Pay off your college debts, particularly credit cards and car loans, before you start a family. Sign up for a free credit report and find out what your FICO score is. If you find errors on your credit history, consider hiring a credit repair attorney.

Lastly, build an emergency fund to cover 3 to 6 months or more of your current salary, this way, if there is a medical emergency or a big car repair bill, you don’t have to apply for a high interest loan and get stuck with paying 300 percent interest on the cash advance loan.

Michelle Sharrow

Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA author and editor of Family Finance, is based in Waldorf, Maryland, she holds a Masters Degree with a concentration in Finance. Michelle provides a monthly column on ways to help families maintain their finances and stick to a budget titled, Budgeting and Savings for Families.
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