Archive for Monday, July 20, 2009

Economy leads many families to reconsider how they’ll pay for college

From left, Incoming freshmen Jeff Jasperson, Tyler Click and Will Marsh attend a welcome picnic for new students and their parents on Wednesday at KU’s Adams Alumni Center. The economy has forced families to think differently about how to finance a college education, especially through financial aid, scholarships and loans.

From left, Incoming freshmen Jeff Jasperson, Tyler Click and Will Marsh attend a welcome picnic for new students and their parents on Wednesday at KU’s Adams Alumni Center. The economy has forced families to think differently about how to finance a college education, especially through financial aid, scholarships and loans.

July 20, 2009


As Lawrence High School graduate Tyler Click and his parents prepare for his move to Kansas University next fall, they and many others like them are looking at new ways to pay for college.

At a recent welcoming picnic for new KU students, his mother, Betty Click, said that Tyler and his parents would be both helping to pay for his education.

However, with some of their savings lost in the recent market troubles, student loans may be a more likely possibility.

“We were very comfortable,” Betty Click said, as the family prepared to send its oldest of three children to school. “And now, we’re not as comfortable.”

Still, the family is still hopeful that they won’t have to borrow, as Tyler has some money saved up from years of working part-time, and he’s earned some scholarships, too.

At the picnic, as new students munched on pizza and sang the alma mater with alumni, there were a few other messages dropped in, too. Alumni Association members talked about how it was important to graduate in four years, because after that, tuition increased dramatically because of KU’s four-year guaranteed tuition rate.

An incoming freshman next year taking 15 credit hours at KU will pay $4,102.85 per semester in tuition and fees.

The university is continuing to offer student aid at levels similar to those in the past — it has increased its KU Tuition Grant maximum funding levels by $200 to $2,700. The university spends about $8.6 million in funding for the program.

KU is also seeing more students interested in receiving scholarship assistance. Filings of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, are up nearly 7 percent at KU from this time last year.

More than 17,300 KU students have filed the document that determines eligibility for federal Pell Grants and low-interest loans for students.

Robert Shandy, a counselor at Lawrence High School, said that the economy is playing a role in college decision-making.

“I can think of different instances where people did change their mind,” Shandy said. “Where dad gets laid off, and mom’s income isn’t enough.”

Many students are also opting for cheaper community colleges for their first few years, he said.

While he said he’s seen an upswing in that kind of trend, he thought there might be more yet to come.

“We might see more of that into this year,” he said.

He said he tries to help people in that situation as best that he can, and sometimes, it can have the opposite result as what some people may think. If a family’s income situation changes, they can file an updated FAFSA form, and their new income levels may qualify them for significantly more assistance than before, Shandy said.

Chris Smith, a Lawrence resident who is planning to major in pharmacy at KU, also attended the KU picnic with his mother and stepfather. He will be paying for one-third of his education through part-time jobs, and his mother and father will each take a third, said Rachelle Patterson, Smith’s mother.

She said the family is doing well with financial planning — for now — though she worries about how the state budget may affect her own financial future.

“I’m still doing OK,” said Patterson, a teacher in the Baldwin City school district. “I still have a job.”

Smith said he’s worked hard over the summer, but is still trying to track down a job he can have during the school year that will pay some of his expenses. It may be hard for him, he admits, as he juggles his new schedule, which doesn’t just include classes and studying, but also sports practices and travel as a walk-on for the KU track and field squad.

All that stress of thinking about financial issues hasn’t tempered his excitement, though, as he prepared to embark on a new phase of his life. He said he was looking forward to being a part of the track team, after doing well in the high-school javelin, and even to some of the academic pursuits, too.

“I’m just excited to take classes that actually go toward something,” he said.


ralphralph 8 years, 8 months ago

News Flash: Many families are pondering not only how they will pay, but whether the kid will go at all. I know this first hand. KU and other schools like it are on a path towards pricing themselves out of the market. We're looking at all the alternatives ... community college, online, technical, etc., to see what makes the most sense. KU has a lot of appeal, but a lot of fluff, when it comes down to it. I'm less convinced that the value is there.

Kryptenx 8 years, 8 months ago

Well, you're not going to take classes that actually go towards something for another couple years, unless you really think pre-reqs are going to teach you something.

Kryptenx 8 years, 8 months ago

Great article for those in ralphralph's situation:

Hell, I've even got it good. I pay for my living expenses, bills, etc, and the parents pick up the tuition tab. Still, working full time and going to school full time is ridiculously hard and has me pondering whether or not it's even worth it at all. I've already got a house and can start saving/investing money, whilst recent grads are still many years away from their first home. The benefits of compound interest are more pronounced the earlier you start, which balances the scale of lifetime income.

mom_of_three 8 years, 8 months ago

You miss a lot going to online schools. I went to community college for the first two years, and it was fine. But now that I attend KU as a non-trad student, I wonder what it would be like to go to KU when I was younger. But costs are a major factor.

yankeevet 8 years, 8 months ago

If you can't afford to go; just remember ; the Marines are looking for a few good men..............and oh yea; women also.......they have an education program.......i got my education in the Ashau Valley awhile back....

PJ Karasek 8 years, 8 months ago

Having worked part-time all through college, 70-80 hrs/week during the summer, and still having to take out loans every year, I can't say that I'm surprised that many can't afford college anymore. It really makes you wonder if the education earned justifies the huge debt coming out of college...unless you're from one county east, then you get everything you need from mommy & daddy. It's frustrating to hear every year that our state universities need money for repairs, renovations, etc., and every year the tuition hike doesn't provide enough. How high do we have to go before it all balances out? $5000/semester in-state? why stop there? $10,000/semester? I grew up dying to be a jayhawk and I managed to make it work, I wonder if kids going to college in 5 or 10 years will have the same opportunity or if college will only be for the financially elite at that point.

Jessie Stoltenow 8 years, 8 months ago

I'm attending college online and working full time. I support me, help support my boyfriend and help with his son. I have to take out student loans every year. I'm going to finish my assoc. degree in January and then start the bachelor's program. It's well worth it. I'm glad my parents didn't/couldn't help me out with school. If they did, I probably wouldn't be doing as well as I am.

cthulhu_4_president 8 years, 8 months ago

"Yes, professors are the first to tell you you miss out if you don't attend a college."

Actually, professors are probably fine with the transition, as many professors I have come into contact with seem to view their teaching obligation as a necessary chore that just gets in the way of their research and graduate students. If you're in one of the large undergrad Gen ed classes, you might be lucky if you ever get face time with the professor, and not the army of GTA's that they employ to insulate themselves from the concerns of the lowly undergrad. Not all profs are like this, but some obviously are.

"But ya know, you also cut out a lot of the game playing that professors do, those silly games which strongly influence the future of the student."

Part of the higher education experience is the development of critical thinking skills so that one can bring the substance of the class out of any chaff of head-games that a professor might play. I've had teachers from both extremes of political and philosophical spectra, but, along with their biases, those teachers also pass along the tools needed to critically analyze ideas, and decide for onesself what ideas hold merit. The best grades and discussions I've received from teachers were those in which I disagreed with them from a critically thought out, evidence-based position. Sure teachers will present biases with material; it is a subject very close to their heart, so of course they have opinions, but if a young student gets so caught up in the emotionalism of bias and embraces a viewpoint while dismissing the critical thinking aspect, and has their future influenced as a result, then that means that they would have had their future influenced by anyone, as long as that person talked loud enough, and with convincing enough emotion. That person is in college for the wrong reasons.

kujayhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

$4,102.85 in tuition and fee's for a semester? That's like paying for daycare all over again.

In all honesty, KU needs to set a trend by getting rid of those worthless liberal arts classes for people that know what they want to major in so they can graduate quicker.

KansasPerson 8 years, 8 months ago

Don't count out the smaller liberal-arts colleges, many of which are excellent. Benefits are:

1) They are often generously endowed by wealthy alums, rather than supported by the state government. At state schools, you are at the mercy of the legislature when it comes to tuition rates.

2) In many cases, the smaller private colleges have a MUCH higher per-capita financial aid amount that you'll ever get at a state university. Example of one such school: Tuition and fees 27,500; average award 21,789. Our son's hard work through his high-school years netted him a four-year scholarship which will cover everything except books and personal expenses. You just can't get that at KU.

3) In the post-Sputnik age, American universities decided to focus heavily on research, which makes them an excellent place to do graduate work, but maybe not so much for undergraduates unless you want to be taught by assistants in large lecture halls. For a smaller environment where the professor actually knows your name and is committed to teaching, you can't go wrong with one of the smaller liberal arts colleges.

4) You think a liberal-arts college will not give you a degree that "leads to something?" Our son will be attending one of the forty "Colleges That Change Lives" this fall (see Here are some stats that might interest you. One out of eight graduates of his college hold the title of CEO or President. 75 percent go on to graduate or professional schools within five years of graduation. Of the 88 faculty members, 86 are full-time. There are no teaching assistants. Nearly 100 percent of the students have been guests in the homes of the professors by the time they graduate. The network of alumni is enormously helpful later in life; fellow graduates know the quality of the education and the caliber of the graduates, so they are willing to help them out. And this is not some snobby rich-kids school, either (see point #2).

Paul R Getto 8 years, 8 months ago

Kansas Person: Good points. There are many alternatives to pursue, which is part of America's genius. Liberal arts education teaches one to think, to communicate, to understand the vast sweep of history, etc. and often leads to a good career. College is not a vocational school or a place to 'learn how to make lots of money.' Persons interested in a career that pays $100,000 or so to start should go to truck driving school or learn to service ATM machines. We need people educated in many areas, but liberal arts is always a good place to start.

Onasis 8 years, 8 months ago

It seems that lots of folks have acquired the attitude that college is a given, a guarantee, and that the government will foot the bill. I am all for higher education, however, people need to get back into the mindsets of you do what you can, and if you can't afford it, you don't do it. It might be little Junior's dream to attend KU or whatever university. But if Junior and his parents can't afford to send him there, then don't. Junior has many other options as so many in other comments have stated already, his life isn't over. Otherwise little Junior gets out of college with $75,000 worth of debt and a job (if he can find one) that only pays $30,000 a year. Happens everyday. Live within your means.

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