Tackling Rising Tuition in Smaller, More Manageable Segments

We know that the cost of a college education can be overwhelming to students and their families, especially young adult cancer survivors who already carry debt from cancer treatment.  With the recent economic downturn and looming fear of a recession, it is scary to imagine taking-on another expense, especially one as big as college tuition.

We are here to tell you and your parents that it can be done.  The key is to break the cost of college into manageable payments and to start saving now.  The question is not, “Can I afford to go to college?” The question is “Can I afford NOT to go to college?”

Grab your parents and read this column together.

Taken from US News Oct. 24th, written by higher education expert Scott Friedhoff:

Our current economy has made my how-to-pay-for-college conversations with parents a challenge. As an enrollment administrator for a selective liberal arts college, I’m used to talking with parents who are anxiety-ridden about whether their child will get into the “right” school. But the apprehension about getting into college is nothing compared with the worry—approaching despair—over how to pay for college.

Unfortunately, too many people—especially families with younger children—believe that saving for college requires a sacrifice they’re unable to make. They’re reading news stories that project the cost of a college education 10, 15, or 20 years from now—numbers that are so astronomical you might think they were a line item in NASA’s budget. Some analysts are saying that to be able to cover the cost of college then, you need to start saving $500, $750, or even $1,000 a month per child now. Well, the families I talked with can’t spare that—especially the family with triplets!

The not unexpected response is simply to give up. My response, however, is to remind parents that saving for college will always help, no matter how much they put away each month. In addition, parents have never had so many options for saving for college, especially because of the proliferation of 529 plans. The short- and long-term tax benefits of these plans make saving for college even more palatable.

Financial analysts who bring a message of gloom and doom about what you can expect to pay for college focus on the “whole nut"—the projected total cost of college at some distant point in time. They then calculate what you would have to save per month to cover that figure. They also assume no financial assistance in either need-based or merit-based aid.

Those of us in higher education encourage families to begin to save just one third of that monthly figure planners give you, then divide the balance between monthly payments to be made during the college years and long-term financing to be paid back after college.

Simple math. This plan seems so logical, so simple, so manageable, yet it’s not percolating down to the general public. First, save one third of the future cost of college with monthly contributions to a college savings plan. (I recommend first the 529 savings plans.) Once your child is enrolled in college, continue your monthly payments, but instead of sending the check to your savings plan, send it to your child’s college to cover the tuition. (At this point you’ll also be using money from that savings plan to pay tuition). Finance the final third by taking advantage of low-interest, deferred-payment student—or parent—loans.

Does one third of $500, $750, or even $1,000 per month now seem manageable? Perhaps so. And for those for whom this is not possible, it is very likely that the cost of a college education will be discounted by some significant amount that makes even a $50, $75, or $100 monthly contribution to a savings account helpful.

Some final tips:

  • Merit aid, while prevalent at many colleges, is something you might not want to count on. If your child is fortunate enough to receive such an award, use it to reduce either your monthly payments during college or what you finance over the long term.
  • Start your monthly contributions to a college savings plan as soon as possible, and try to increase the amount you save each year. Having your child contribute some portion of cash gifts he or she receives will increase not only the balance of the account but also your son or daughter’s sense of fiscal responsibility.
  • Explore financial aid options by calling college admissions offices, register on FastWeb.com to identify outside scholarship opportunities, explore MeritAid.com for information about which colleges offer merit-based scholarship, and take advantage of websites like savingforcollege.com and U.S. News’s “Paying for College.”
  • And, most important, don’t give up. You ask your kids to tackle tough problems in school every day so that they’ll have the opportunity to go to college. Beginning a college savings plan can be intimidating, but consider it an opportunity to show your children that challenges that seem insurmountable sometimes just require a little more homework.

Scott Friedhoff is vice president for enrollment and communications at Allegheny College , a private, liberal arts college in Meadville, Pa.

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~Jamie Corder, CCC Executive Director


Fall 2008

I have always loved this time of year and the feeling of change in the air. It is fitting that these months have also brought so much change to CCC. It has been a busy fall for us CCC staffers, and we are so excited to turn over the new CCC leaf. 

First, check out our new website! Not only do we look more sophisticated, we have increased our functionality so that you can find more information, resources and opportunities to network with your peers with less time and effort.  Check out our blogs for our workshop series on key topics such as how to improve your application essay, or how to maintain your health while away from home. Browse through our database called CCCpedia, which includes over 3,000 college scholarships and over $5.8 million in financial aid specifically for young adult cancer survivors.

Secondly, CCC is beginning to grow.  We are collaborating with other organizations that serve young adult cancer survivors to increase our scope of impact on this population. We recently partnered with the LAF, NSPA and RAI among others, and are looking forward to attending the Young Adult Alliance Conference in Austin next month. We truly believe that by working together we will improve college access and success rates for young adult cancer survivors.

Finally, get ready for the 2009 CCC Scholarship kick-off on Nov.1!  We have spent the fall collaborating with Scholar Select to streamline our online application process making it even more user-friendly for our applicants, which means less time with applications and more time with you!  Our goal this year is to give personal attention to each applicant so that no survivor must navigate the financial road to college alone.

Yes, I admit that change is often scary.  Yet we must remember that change also brings the possibility for new opportunities and experiences.  It is in this spirit that we have worked so hard to embrace and create change at CCC.  We thank you for your support during this period of transition and hope that you will join us in the exciting journey ahead.

Best Wishes,

Jamie Corder 
Executive Director, CCC 


5 Tips for Staying Healthy in College

College is one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life.  Suddenly you have more freedom, the opportunity to explore new ideas and make new friends.  Plus, no one is telling you when to go to bed!  Yet with all of this newfound freedom and excitement, it is easy to let your health fall by the wayside. As a young adult cancer survivor, now is the time to make sure that you make your health a priority, and keep it that way.

Here are five great ways to make sure that you stay on top of your game:

1. Repeat after me: “An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.” Wash your hands, get a good night sleep, take your vitamins, eat lots of fruit and vegetables…You’ve heard it all before, I know. But repeat after me, and chances are you will stay away from that weird campus infirmary.

2. Get a flu shot. College campuses are breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria.  Getting a flu shot, (and did I mention regularly washing your hands?) is the best way to avoid throwing up on your roommate’s futon.

3. Say “Aw.” As a young adult cancer survivor it is critical that you keep up with your routine check-ups. If you have a new physician, make sure to communicate concerns or questions to her.  If she is unable to answer your questions, seek out an alternative health care provider.

4. Get moving. Exercise boosts your immune system and prevents the dreaded “freshman fifteen”.  If that isn’t enough motivation to get you off the couch, exercise also is proven to boost feelings of wellness, reduce stress and contributes to a good night’s sleep.

5. Stay connected. Feeling lonely and homesick are common for many freshman students.  Depression and suicidal thoughts are not. Reach out to family and friends, or find a trusted professional to talk with.  Remember to stay connected to your young adult survivorship support groups, or join ours!

Follow these tips and chances are you will have a Fun, Happy and Healthy Freshman Year!

~Jamie Corder, CCC Executive Director