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11

Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 11, 2024 11:24 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included a decision about paying for college, stay-at-home-moms vs work-out-of-the-house moms, options for a UVA early decision reject, and a friend who is negative about a new business.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Donut family: Pay for T10 or go to state for almost free" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Yesterday I discussed a thread that was about "dead zone" families who are families in the top 3-10 percent of income but struggle with admissions to elite colleges because they are beat out by the top 1 percent. Sometimes, however, children from those families, and families just below them in income level, do get accepted. Those families often face a separate issue. They are too wealthy to be awarded financial aid but don't have the financial resources to pay expensive tuitions out of pocket. These families are often referred to as "donut hole families". The original poster says that her daughter has been accepted to a top 10 university but has been awarded minimal financial aid. It will cost them about $60k per year  for her to attend the university. In constrast, she can go to the University of Maryland-College Park for a third of that. The family has limited retirements savings, currently rents, and has been saving for a downpayment on a house. They have about $200k household income. The original poster's daughter plans to study something in the arts but is otherwise undecided. The original poster wants her daughter to have the best degree possible, but also wants to prioritize retirement savings. There are of course a variety of opinions about which option is best, otherwise this would not have been such an active thread. One view is represented very succinctly by a poster who wrote, "[t]he way to set her up as well as possible is to minimize both loans and the chance that she will have to support her destitute parents in retirement." With this in mind, UMD or a comparable option would be the best choice. But, others argue for the value of a degree from a top 10 university and suggest pursuing that option even if it requires taking out loans. That view is very much in the minority, however. Several posters question the original poster's financial planning and prior financial decisions. Others question the value of an arts degree. Quite a few posters point out that the daughter will probably need to attend graduate school. Therefore, the undergraduate school is not that important. The original poster's plight highlights one characteristic of financial aid calculations that continually irks me. She has $250k sitting in a savings account to be used as a downpayment for a house. From a school's point of view, that is tuition money and, therefore, offsets need for financial aid. As a result the original poster is being punished for saving. Had she spent that money on a house last year — or even blown it over a wild week in Las Vegas — her daughter would be in a stronger position for financial aid calculations.

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