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The Best High School Guidance Counselor

You are the best high school guidance counselor for your child!  This article illustrates one way that you are better than a school counselor

For the College-Bound, Smart Ways to Borrow.

"Families should recognize that higher education is a business, backed by Madison Avenue-scale marketing, and the advice they receive is likely to be biased. High school counselors encourage students to apply to "name" colleges to boost the high school's reputation, says Bissonnette. College financial aid officers have a vested interest in getting students to enroll, no matter what the cost. And the media, with its rankings of top schools, exploits parental anxieties."

In contrast, parents can encourage their students to apply to a college that fits the student and their financial situation.  It's amazingly simple. Parents know more about their child and their financial situation than a high school counselor.  With that information in hand, the best advice is to apply for a variety of colleges.

The article also gives a few helpful tips.  Here are his suggestions

Start a 529 college savings plan
Maximize scholarships and grants first
Beware of financial aid package that aren't automatically renewed
Do not borrow more for than your expected starting salary
Overborrowing may spoil your other life plans

I love his conclusion.  It's a great way to explain what "loan" means to teenagers, in terms they can understand. "If you borrow, double the cost of everything you buy with the loan money — because that's the real cost of the loan including interest. That $10 pizza is really $20. The $4 latte, $8. And that $100,000 boondoggle to Australia is a whopping $200,000 — an amount that borrower will likely be paying off for decades to come."

It's possible to go to college without using loans.  Save money along the way, prepare your child well, make sure they are presented to the college in a positive way, etc.  Choosing the college carefully is a big piece of the puzzle too!

Check out my new profile on The Old Schoolhouse’s Speakers Bureau, and then ask you conference coordinator to invite me to come speak to your conference in 2011!
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