College Smart – Get the biggest bang for your buck

Parents with seniors in high school have been busy this fall helping sons and daughters apply for admission to college. While sticker prices for tuition, room and board can be shocking, most families are willing to pay the price. Most want the best possible futures for their offspring.

Do your research: Not every degree is worth its cost     While it’s nice to go on to further education for the sole sake of learning, college is a huge investment that should be treated like any other potential asset. Whether the student or the parents pay the bill, a few key questions that should be asked before sending in the deposit for the freshman year include:

l Is this particular college degree the best route to future success for this student?

l    Will this college degree be more valuable in the future than it costs today?

l    Will this degree improve the grad’s financial life, his or her livelihood and lifestyle?  

l    Are there plenty of good jobs in this field to recover money the family invests in this degree?

Success: Too many families mistakenly believe that any college degree leads to success. That may have been true last century when bachelors’ degrees were scarce, but can’t be counted on today. Most professions that require finishing college (e.g., medicine, education, dentistry or architecture) are still good bets; but, the benefits of even those credentials need to be weighed against the price of obtaining them. Knowledge is easy to access now, available online for all of us to find freely in a Google search.

Value: In the 21st century only the right degrees, such as those in demand like the STEM cluster (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) are consistently valuable. The worth of a college degree today depends largely on how much certain credentials are in demand. A glut in some fields of study leads to less value.

Life and Livelihood: In most cases, additional knowledge is a powerful asset to have in life. When education doesn’t provide a decent lifestyle or livelihood, though, it may not be worth the price. If families have to struggle for years or give up essentials like health care to pay off college debt, they need to think twice before taking out college loans that lead only to lower-than-expected financial results.

Jobs: Before deciding on majors and minors, students should do their research. Today, they can simply Google job titles to find out the facts, including how many good-paying jobs will be available in their field.

Do your homework before heading off to campus. Find the smartest way to get the best bang for your college buck.

Manage Your Money . . . financial facts for a brighter future provided by Advancd Asset Management LLC                          

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Ronald Van Surksum, CFP               

4555 Wilson Ave SW – Suite 2               Grandville, MI 49418                 

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For permission to reprint:           11-08-21