Time to Breathe

Posted February 10th, 2010 by collegemomindebt and filed in Finances, Parent to Parent
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Yay!  It’s finally time to breathe.

  • Our 1099 tax form has been completed and filed and we’re getting a modest return. 
  • Daughter Number Two has sat at the computer and entered the remaining data to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) while I hunted down numbers for her from various tax forms. 
  • The FAFSA is done and has been submitted to the federal government and her transfer school of choice.  (I had to recover the personal identifier number (PIN) used for Daughter Number One, but this was an easier process than I had imagined.)
  • Daughter Number One has completed her bachelor and graduate degrees and is working in a job and living in a community she loves.
  • Daughter Number Two is completing Winter Quarter Mid-terms at community college and preparing for a vocal scholarship audition that will occur in two weeks.
  • With the help of a strong antibiotic, Daughter Number Three is recovering from three ear/nose/throat infections and got well enough in time to make a mandatory 6th Grade Band Concert last Thursday.

Now I can relax and focus on other things that need attention like my job, volunteer work, laundry and housework.

Given that my life is composed of many different relationships, responsibilities and interests, there are times when I need extra support.  Even with twenty years of being an elementary school parent, I still need the help of a consulting nurse to know when to bring my 6th Grade daughter in to the doctor for tests.  And after 35 years in the work force, I still need help from a tax accountant to put together my W2’s and 1099.  And even after having gotten one child through the full education process, my family and I still need occasional advice from financial counselors, relationship counselors and legal counselors.  For this reason, I am happy to have support like that offered by the Student Assistance Program just a phone call away.  In these difficult economic times, it is important to gather multiple resources around me so that “College Mom in Debt” doesn’t become overwhelmed and unfit to carry on in all the roles that my family and community needs me to fill.

Thankfully, even though the weather is chilly and I’m a bit weary, I am content and I have some fun things planned for my husband and I this Valentine’s Day Weekend.  I hope all college moms are faring at least as well as me this week.

Financial Decisions We Have Made to Finance College

Posted July 23rd, 2009 by collegemomindebt and filed in Finances, Parent to Parent
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We did not save enough money to finance our daughters’ full college educations.  In fact, the amount we had in savings would only have gotten one of our daughters through a few months of school.

It wasn’t that we hadn’t tried to save the money.  It was just that life kept happening.  I got sick and had to make serious changes to get well again.  My husband grew tired of working for others and so we started our own business which took years to turn profitable.  We had a third child.  You know how it goes — mostly good stuff — but life interruptions, nonetheless.

So we had to make some tough decisions.

One set of decisions we made was to choose not to provide our daughters with cars to drive and not even to add them to our auto insurance so they could drive our car.  While our daughters often have reminded us that many of their friends had cars or were driving their parents cars from sophomore year of high school on, we reminded them that the thousands of dollars we saved and continue to save each year was going directly into their educations.  And those educations, in turn, would allow each of them to buy a much better car than we could have provided them at age 16.  We also reminded them that we were/are able to drive them wherever they need to go – not cool, but practical.

Another set of decisions was to help our daughters apply for multiple scholarships – help them complete the numerous forms, interviews and steps required.  Through this process we found that it was good to go after scholarships that were new.  Often the number of applicants for a new scholarship opportunity is not as great as for scholarships that have been around for a while.  Therefore, the chance of getting a new scholarship is considerably higher than for older scholarships.  We also found that going for scholarships that were only open to limited groups such as only open to members of a certain credit union or only open to residents of certain cities (such as Chamber of Commerce or Rotary sponsored scholarships) helped increase the chance of getting a scholarship.

Another decision we made was to get our taxes and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) done as early as possible each year.  This is a significant pain (did I say that?), I mean worthwhile effort.  Some years daughter number one and I would be on the phone and online in the FAFSA website at the same time so as to complete the form accurately and early.  I remember the trips to the filing cabinet to pull data and running back to the computer to enter data.  However, in the end it was worth it because completing the form proved that our income level was low enough each year to allow our daughters to receive some grants as well as low interest loans.

Finally, we made the decision to take out loans – some that our daughters will need to repay and others (more) that we as parents are repaying.  While we tried as much as possible to avoid debt, we have chosen to believe that educational loans are good debt because they will help each of our daughters become independent and should result in an increase in earning power for each of our daughters.

While “collegemomindebt” may not be one of my most enjoyable roles, it is one I embrace because I am looking for the long term reward, not the short term financial situation.