Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Financial Aid Handbook

Hard to believe (at least it is to me) I have a son who is a senior in high school. Unlike his ol' pops who knew exactly what he wanted from a college (Had to be in Pittsburgh. That was my one criteria. Not surprisingly I transferred to a tiny school in North Carolina a year later.), he isn't sure where he wants to go or what he wants to study.

That's where this book comes in. The authors, two former (current?) college admission counselors, think that with the cost of tuition nowadays and the fairly minimal differences in the quality of education once you get out of the top thirty schools or so (which are virtually all Ivy League and engineering schools), the college-bound student should be focused on getting their college education as cheaply as possible. Who wants to graduate college with six figures worth of debt?

The authors go into how to look at the differences between what schools say tuition is and what students tend to actually pay out of pocket. They liken it to when you buy a car. There's the manufacturer's recommended price versus what you actually pay once you get to the dealership.

So a situation like mine where your potential college attendee is unsure what he or she wants to be when they're all growns up can be a good thing. Find what schools might be willing to give financial assistance to your kid and select your colleges based on that criteria. Makes a lot of sense.

The book is supposed to be written for the student, primarily, with the parents as an after thought. The authors believe that they are "hip" in their writing style but I would be astounded if any kids actually enjoy reading this. My son thumbed through it. He's an avid reader, too, and was not captivated by the book in the least.

Given that the book has a very limited target audience, the authors don't hit their target audience well and that there is a lot of extraneous fluff to fill out what is really a small book, I'm not giving the book any stars. If you are a parent whose kid is uncertain about his or her college prospects, give it a look-see. It's worth it for you.

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