BOSTON (CBS) – SATs were given last Saturday and of the 1.5 million kids who take the PSATs in their junior year, only about 8,000 qualify for a merit scholarship. So if your kid is not acing her SATs with 800 scores how are you going to pay for college?

College costs have been a hot topic during the election campaign. Costs at private schools were up 4% and public schools up 8% for last year. The ten-year historical rate of increase has been about 6 percent. College will be more expensive in the future, so that should be part of your planning.

Harvard’s tuition for this year is over $37,000 ($37,576) up $1,300 ($1272) from last year and the room and board is over $13,000 ($13,360). And then you add up the fees, the health care, books, phone, a computer, midnight pizza runs, travel and the current school year could cost close to $58,000. You can probably figure on a $250,000 price tag for four years at Harvard.

Tuition at UMASS for this year is up over $13,000 ($13, 230), up $600 ($618 exactly) from last year. Add another $10,000 ($9,937) for room and board. And don’t forget the other stuff so you are looking at a price tag of $105,000 for four years.

The average private college education price tag is double that, coming in at around $160,000 for four years.

I do believe an education is a good investment! That investment could be worth well over a $1 million dollars to the kiddo. That’s the average pay difference over a working career between having a high school diploma compared to a college degree.

But the investment is in the kid so they should be part of the planning and the paying. And when getting that degree they should consider a marketable degree, something that will get them a job upon graduation.

If you don’t have the big bucks to send the kid to a private college this should be on the table long before applications are being filled out. Talking about what the family can afford should begin when they reach middle school or sooner.

Kids need to be a part of this process. They can easily be responsible for their spending money, clothes, entertainment, books and some of the fees depending on the job they have. And they should have a job over the summer to earn money for school.

Hanging out at the beach or the pool, playing video games during the day is not how they should be spending their summer vacation. I know we want our kids to be kids as long as they can, but they want the adult privileges like driving at 16 so they should go to work to pay for those privileges.

One more thing: If a kid is really bright and wants to go to Harvard there may be enough aid offered to make it cheaper than sending the kid to a state college.


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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