Paying for College….or Not

Elementary education is one thing, but what about college? If you just look at the numbers, a carpenter with 10 children can’t afford to send his children to college. But we have a plan and a source of money. The plan is this: we tell our children that we will send them to 2 years of community college and the next 2 years are theirs to pay for if they want a four year degree. They can go into the military, get employer sponsored tuition or enroll in a work/study program. They can save from the time they are little and pay for it, or they can get scholarships and grants. We will discourage loans. That’s the plan. What’s the source? It’s God. He has all the money in the world and can send a child to college if that is what He has planned for that young person. Not everyone needs to go to college either. It’s not a birthright and is not a guaranteed asset in everyone’s life.   So how is that plan working for us? Our oldest daughter graduated from UVA. She entered as a third year at 18 years old because she started community college at 16. She had 2 Associate’s Degrees already. UVA has almost no merit based aid, so her excellent grades didn’t help there. We filled out the FAFSA form which is step one in getting financial aid. Our EFC, or expected family contribution, was very low. She was awarded grants to cover almost all of her needs but did take a loan for $2000 for the year. She will pay back the loan on her own after graduation. A year before she went to UVA my daughter came to me and said she’d decided not to go to a 4 year school this year but would stay home and work. This was not the dream she’d been working toward so I asked what was behind her change of plans. She said she didn’t have the money for college, so she couldn’t go. I said “Oh honey, have I taught you nothing? God has ALL the money!”. She proceded with her dream plan and had her faith strengthened when she saw how little was needed from her for tuition.

Our next 3 daughters have also begun their college years at community college. One got a degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management plus a Culinary Arts certificate. She now has her dream job of working in the bake shop of a resort hotel. She gets to make wedding cakes and lots of other beautiful desserts and has no college debt. Sweet! The next daughter is getting 2 associate’s degrees. One in business, the other in interior design. The fourth daughter did 2 years at community college and transferred to UVA. Her grants and loans have covered all of her university expenses.

So, our plan is working and we will continue with it. We won’t take out a loan to cover our children’s college expenses. Putting our home at risk for the education of one child seems foolish. The financial security of the other 11 members of the family is the greater priority.