IT’S YOUR MONEY: College as a financial decision

Published: July 28, 2013, 3:30 pm

Linda Leitz

Education makes life richer – financially, emotionally and intellectually. But it’s not “one size fits all.”

Pursuing education with a logical approach can make it more financially efficient and satisfying.

Making good educational decisions ultimately saves money and may also be the best long-term financial move.

For instance, paying for an expensive education for your child may seem like a good decision, but it may be a waste of money if he doesn’t want what that education offers.

If you’re examining educational options, you might feel that you owe it to your kids to sacrifice everything to send them to an Ivy League school. Don’t assume that you owe it to them or that it would be the best option.

A good place to start is to find out your kids’ interests. If your child doesn’t like school, explore other subjects or activities that he may like. Try to find a career where he can apply some of his skills and interests.

If your child doesn’t have a particular interest, there are alternatives.

If you and your child agree that college is in his future, he could take some courses at a community college.

Start with some liberal arts basics – such as literature, history and college-level math. In Colorado, most of the community colleges have a program where up to 60 hours of specific courses are accepted for transfer to a four-year degree at another Colorado state school.

Postponing higher education is also an option. Your child might eventually want more education beyond high school but needs time to relax or think about what to do long term. Spending some time in the work force could be good, no matter what he ultimately chooses for a career. It can teach a strong work ethic, the routine of a regular job and how to live on what he earns.

Don’t rule out technical schools. Some great career paths can be pursued through certificate programs. Many interesting and well-paid jobs are available through programs that take six months to two years to complete.

Additionally, don’t forget to consider on-the-job training. While that might not seem like formal education, it may be perfect. Paid or unpaid internships can be very effective for learning a job skill.

Make educational decisions that pay off with what you really want.

Don’t waste your money, and don’t be afraid get your money’s worth.

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Linda Leitz is a certified financial planner. Questions can be emailed to her at
gazette@itsnotjustmoney.com.