Practical Dad

PracticalDad’s College Financing:  Taking a bite out of the elephant

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

          - Friends with a child who's a HS senior

Senior year is supposed to be the piece de resistance for high school students.  In January, the principal at Eldest's high school actually had a class meeting with the seniors to warn them that they still had obligations and shouldn't fall prey to senioritis.  For parents with kids facing higher education, there's a definite pressure as the post high school search ensues and plans have to be made for what happens afterwards.

In our household, the pressure is off slightly as Eldest has finally come to a decision on college.  There's no more questioning and waiting, tapping both literal and figurative toes as her internal gears grind to a conclusion.  But that relief lasted only a short time as the reality of the financing comes into play.  The captioned quote was made by a friend that I encountered as I passed through a coffee shop; she and her husband were sitting and commiserating after finishing their taxes.  The next step for them, as for us, is the completion and submission of the dreaded FAFSA.  Even though I haven't looked at it yet - that occurs this weekend - the form's notoriety is such that it inspires a palpable dread and desire for a stiff two-finger shot.  Once that's done, then comes the response from the college with the details of what's offered. 

The institution's response to the financial data is also something that should be interesting.  One of President Obama's higher education reform policies pertains to an effort to simplify and standardize the college financing letters as well as somehow establish a lid on college costs.  The rip on the institutions, particularly the for-profits such as Phoenix, is that their information is convoluted enough that the average student and parent finds it difficult to decipher accurately.  While I don't expect an issue from this particular college, the first gander should be an interesting one.

So my friends and I will have similar days.  We'll bedeck ourselves with ink-proof bibs and like a diner facing an elephantine dish, start eating it just one bite at a time.  I guarantee that I'll have indigestion afterwards, too.

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