I started this blog in 2009. Bookworm, our oldest child, was just five. Cuddle Bug, our youngest, hadn’t even been born yet. Now, our oldest has graduated high school and is starting college this week! So I thought I’d update you on Bookworm’s college decision, even though it’s been a winding road to get here.
Laying the Ground Work Last Year
Last fall, Bookworm applied to colleges in Arizona and received several scholarships. In addition, when we included my husband’s work discount at one school, Bookworm had a free ride if he continued to live at home.
However, knowing that Bookworm also wanted to spread his wings, I had him apply to an honors program at a community college I went to when I lived in Michigan. He applied, interviewed, and was admitted to the program.
He spent two months with my mom this summer to test how living in Michigan would go.
A Wrinkle in the Plan
And then, in late May, we found out we’d be moving from Arizona to New York.
After two months away from the family, Bookworm knew he could live far away from us, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to. So, he applied to a few private colleges in New York at the end of May. (He did not apply to any public colleges because New York would considered him an out-of-state student for a year even though we were moving there for my husband’s job. We couldn’t afford the out-of-state tuition.)
New York private college #1 gave him substantial merit aid, but the price was still a bit out of our comfort range. We appealed the financial aid, and the college gave us a few more thousand dollars off. This made the price tag more affordable; however, my husband and I would have to pay some out of pocket, and Bookworm would have to take out $5,500 in student loans. He would have to pay the same amount every year or more, leaving him $22,000 to $26,000 in student loan debt when he graduated. One plus is that the college had a good reputation and had plenty of opportunities for students studying in Bookworm’s major.
New York private college #2 gave him some merit aid, but the price tag was definitely out of reach. We also appealed to them, but they denied any additional aid. So, we checked this college off the list quickly.
Another drawback to the New York colleges is that Bookworm doesn’t drive, so he would have to take public transportation to commute to either school. That involved leaving the house at 7 a.m. to catch the only morning bus from our house and then transferring to another bus for what might be a long journey. The only bus home to our area arrived at 4 p.m., so the transportation was inflexible.
Decision, Decisions, Decisions
Although a gap year had never been a consideration, Bookworm thought about it. Taking a gap year would let him apply in the fall and potentially receive more merit aid. It would also allow him to take the year to become a New York resident. Then, he could also apply to public universities and community colleges and pay in-state rates next year.
In the end, at the 11th hour, Bookworm decided he would likely waste a gap year. He wanted to go to school this year. He was choosing between the college in Michigan and the private school #1 in New York.
Ultimately, he decided he did not want to go into debt to attend college, so he is going to the community college in Michigan. After his scholarship for being a member of the honors program, his tuition is affordable. He’s paying half, and we’re paying half. No loans are needed as we can both fund the remaining tuition out of pocket.
Even though the New York private school #1 has a good name and reputation, I hated to think of Bookworm having debt after college. I had debt when I graduated college, and it took me years to pay. We’re proud that Bookworm chose the option with no debt. It’s a good program, and he’ll get a good start on his college career.
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Our 7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum
Mandy Zuniga (@thereadwritemom) says
Sounds like Bookworm made an excellent choice! Getting through school debt-free is definitely wise. Hope he has a great year!