This has been a hard post to write (struggled on a title for quite awhile). I write it mainly to get all my thoughts out, secondly if anyone wants to chime in that would be great. Those of us that have children always want whats best for them and we want to help whenever we can. It hurts when you can’t but sometimes you also have to draw a line and consider yourself and the rest of the family.
Through out my son’s last year of high school I had talks to him about college and I thought he was settled on going to a local JC then transferring to a 4 year local college. You see we are not that well off that I can just pay for his college and we discussed the best route would be to go to a JC while working. He could get his general ed out of the way and be saving money for the transfer. Also, by going through his general ed first, he can look at his future course listings and decide which route he wants to take in college.
I would also be better off helping him at that level as it is not that expensive, compared to Washington State where he wanted to go. He would also save money by staying at home by not having to pay room and bored. Even if he decided to transfer to Washington Sate after JC he would hopefully have some money saved up and would be easier to start on his own out of town.
Well after graduation he decided he wanted to stay with his mom so he moved up with her (about an hour drive north of here) Hadn’t heard much from him since, poked him and commented his Facebook now and then. Didn’t make into the local JC there so next thing I know he is applying to Washington State, which he didn’t get in but he did get into Idaho State. Next think I know he is up there (his grand parents live close to the campus) and I get a phone call from his mom talking about the money situation.
Yes they have things called ‘Parent Loans’, if the student doesn’t qualify for enough then the parents can borrow on their behalf. My son qualified for so much in financial aid and I think a small student loan but not enough to cover the $15,000 a semester. So they are asking me to do a parent loan to cover the rest. I went ahead and applied because if I am turned down then he can get an extra $5k in financial aid. Figured my FICO score was about 630 no way Id get approved. Forgot this is a Federal loan and of course they are just dishing out money, they approved me…
Now comes the dilemma I’ve been struggling with for the past week. Do I take on a $10k loan so he can go to Idaho State? I mean he’s my son and I should do everything I can to help him along right? But I just started trying to get out of debt this year and nearly done with the credit card debt. That is just me, the wife still has student loans as well and she is on a teachers income. Do I take on another monthly payment for what could be up to 19 years, paying over $9k in interest.
After much thinking I have decided that I could not do the loan. If there were other ways I could help out I would but I have to think about the family at home as well. Im 20 years away from ‘retirement’ and I am self employed with income having its ups and downs. I just got my emergency funds at a comfortable level and have restarted my retirement investing in hopes that I will have an income in 20 years as well.
I guess the lesson here for everyone and myself is to be prepared. I did have a college fund started for him at one time. It got used elsewhere, and I do regret that, but even if it remained it wouldn’t have been more than a thousand or two, as it was started quite late and then the crash occurred. I am also thinking of refinancing the house, for one to get a lower rate but also perhaps I can get some extra out to help him with what ever route he ends up with. I am a bit more comfortable taking some out bundled with the house at 4% rather than the 8% of the parent loan. If it happens it won’t help now as he needs it by the 4th.
I also have a daughter that is currently 8 yo and need to start something for her, even if it ends up just being a thousand or two it will help her out.
It hurts me not being able to help him and Im sure he’s not to happy with me at the moment. I hope I am doing the right thing and that he will see that in the end. I am curious what some of you would do in this situation..