Paying for College

Can You Afford Your Dream College?

The last of the Ivy-elite early admission results will be out this mid-December week. I've witnessed many happy reports from those who got their good news over the past few days or so. Of course, along with that good news comes the financial aid package, which, for those who are not in the “full pay" category, can make the difference between enrolling and having to pick an alternate school because of unaffordability.

Having to forgo enrolling at your dream school because of money is a blow. You've worked hard over the years so far and, finally, you've been rewarded with admission to the school you've longed for. Now, though, the reality of paying the freight has crushed your dreams. Maybe you could afford it with enough loans, but that option raises the old question: How far into long-term debt are you willing to go?

I think I'll trot out my infamous and oft-ridiculed paying-for-college theory, which states: Get into the best and most expensive school that you can. Why do I say this? Simply put, most of the “big," so-called “elite" and “prestigious" (whatever that means) schools have the most generous financial aid policies, meaning that most, if not all, of your family's demonstrated need will be met by them through need-based aid. It also implies that your student loan debt could be significantly lower.

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