Revisiting Is College Worth It?

Revisiting Is College Worth It?

We are pleased to welcome Nancy Paul as a Sammy Rabbit Guest Blogger and have Nancy contribute her thinking and expert knowledge on whether or not a college education is still worth it.

This is a topic we first introduced in a blog from Harsimran Chohan, titled: Is College Worth It? At that time, Harsimran was a high school junior. She is now entering her senior year.

About Nancy

Nancy Paul is the Founder of The Institute for Financial Literacy in College Planning. She is a champion for college planning and the author of the book, The Little Book About Scholarships.

Nancy shares she had no idea helping her three daughters with the college process would inspire a mission to elevate teen potential and social responsibility by merging college planning and financial literacy.

You can discover more about Nancy and her mission at her website: NancyPaul.com.

Nancy Paul – Revisiting Is College Worth It?

For many families, college is the expected next step after high school.  Parents and students, alike, focus on where to go to college, and perhaps, even, how much to pay for it.  Few question the value of going to college in the first place…until they’ve graduated and find themselves second-guessing how (and how much) they paid for it.

Kudos to high school senior Harsimran Chohan for her self-reflective and inspirational article, “Is College Worth It?”

Bravo to this student leader for asking the important questions before applying to a single school.

Harsimran demonstrates an understanding and financial awareness that college debt is “a significant and growing component to many financing plans.”

Having advised families on cost-saving strategies since 2011, I do feel compelled to clarify some of her points.  

While all colleges in the United States do offer financial aid to students who demonstrate financial need according to strict formulas, it is not the case that financial support is available to any student who pursues it. First, students and their families must complete the FAFSA on time and correctly.  Secondly, many families earn too much to qualify for financial aid but not enough to keep up with skyrocketing college costs.  Merit scholarships – money for college based on achievement – offer relief to those who don’t qualify for financial aid; however, merit aid is also complicated.

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There is far too much misinformation and lack of information regarding a family’s options for how and how much to pay for college.

Staying in-state is not necessarily less expensive.

And private colleges are often more generous than public schools.

The most selective colleges don’t offer any merit scholarships. Many of our elite schools do, however, meet 100% of demonstrated financial need which can result in some students paying very little for a degree from the most prestigious schools in the country.  Their classmates, however, may pay as much as $72,000 per year.

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Is college worth it?

Congratulations, again, to Harsimran for tackling this important topic and for boldly questioning the value of college.

Going to college and going to a specific college can yield very different answers.

As families seek to find the “best fit” school, cost must be part of that equation. Ending up at a college that doesn’t meet social or academic expectations is disappointing indeed.  But decades of college debt (for the students OR parents) can have more serious consequences, robbing young people of the bright future they went to college for in the first place.

Financial education must become part of all college planning.

Then, and only then, college will be worth it for anyone who’s interested.

Share your story your perspective with Sammy Rabbit and his global audience on college or another personal finance topic that interests you.

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About the Author

Nancy Paul is the Founder of The Institute for Financial Literacy in College Planning. She is a champion for college planning and the author of the book, The Little Book About Scholarships.


Posted in: Features, Guest Columns