On this special bonus episode of the HerMoney Podcast, we dive into all things college + education costs. Because when it comes to ensuring our kids have the best educational experience possible, arguably one of the biggest hurdles we face is the financial one — how to pay for college. But as parents, we aren’t alone in our concerns. According to Fidelity’s 2021 College Savings and Student Debt Study, Gen-Z is growing incredibly wary of the high price tag for college, with 4-in-10 rating cost as the “most important” factor in their college choice. And more than half say that getting a job that pays enough to support their long-term goals is among their top priorities, which is wonderful, but it’s clear that the cost of college is weighing heavily on everyone.
At the same time, it’s unclear whether we truly understand just how much college will really cost — the Fidelity study showed a staggering disconnect between expectations of costs and reality. On average, high school parents expect the annual cost of college to be around $22,000 for tuition, room and board, books, and fees), but in reality, that number is closer to $29,000, according to data from the College Board.
What’s more, 37% of high school parents confess they simply haven’t started saving for their child’s education just yet, and nearly a third of recent college graduates say they don’t know how long it will take to repay their loans, again, according to the Fidelity study.
It is clear that we have some big question marks around paying for college — which is why we wanted to do this special Mailbag episode to answer some of your most pressing questions on the topic! We’re joined by Rita Assaf, squad leader for Retirement and College Leadership at Fidelity Investments, to help us tackle all your questions.
We hear from a listener looking for suggestions on how to celebrate finally becoming student debt-free, and we hear from a concerned mom looking for ideas on the best way to plan for college while her son is in college. We also walk through what to do with college savings if you have a child who decides not to pursue a traditional college degree, and how to make up for lost time if you haven’t been able to save as much as you want. We also talk about how to help cover college costs for a niece and nephew, and how to make sure your child stays engaged during their college experience, if it’s fully paid for.
Thank you to everyone who submitted questions via our private HerMoney Facebook group, and via our email address — firstname.lastname@example.org, which you can email anytime you have a financial question for us to tackle!