College on the Cheap isn’t about saving money, it’s about spending money.
I can teach you in 5 seconds how to save money. “Put your money over there and don’t touch it.” Boom. You saved money. Saving money is easy. Spending… spending money with wisdom is hard.
You can’t pay for college by saving money. To pay for college, you’ll have to spend money, and knowing how to spend money wisely and carefully takes a lot of work.
A cheapskate recognizes that educational credentials cost money. Navigating the costs can either launch you into a career ready to take on the world, or financially devastated for decades. Most of us enthusiastically make our college choices based on emotion and hype. This isn’t your fault, the higher education industry makes sure you feel that way. They are banking on it.
Were you taught wrong?
WRONG: Huge scholarships will fall into your lap if you’re a good student or athlete.
Truth: most scholarships are small potatoes, not coming close to making a dent in the cost of the degree, but these carrots usually do the trick and have a huge influence on whether or not a student enrolls.
WRONG: Only “rich people” can pay cash for college.
Truth: middle class parents and teens pay cash for college all day long at colleges all across the country.
WRONG: If I don’t have a big savings account, I can’t go to college.
Truth: in some cases, a big savings account clouds your judgement and can cause you to overspend. Even students who start with big savings accounts can end up in debt.
WRONG: Student loan is no big deal, in fact, it’s “good debt.”
Truth: a school teacher with $25,000 in student loan debt is not in the same financial situation as a computer engineer with $25,000, but neither are in the same financial situation as the nurse who graduates debt free. Call it what you want, having zero debt always wins.
WRONG: Everyone pays the same price for the same degree at the same college.
Truth: most colleges allow you to outsource 50% or more of the degree using cheaper (or free) classes. If you’re paying rack rate for an entire degree, there is no question that you’ve overpaid.
WRONG: It’s possible to compare all the colleges available to you.
Truth: most of us are familiar with our state college system, the Ivy League, Division 1 & 2 (maybe 3), and I’ll toss in all the colleges attended by every family member and close friend you know. If you’re really well-informed, you can probably name 150 colleges. You might even “know” a good big about a dozen colleges, but no one is actually comparing all their college options.
Join me, Jennifer Cook-DeRosa, and my podcast co-host Shelley Cloutier for a new episode each month as we throw cold water on your romance with higher education, and teach you real ways to get through College on the Cheap!