News Column

Fewer parents helping kids pay for college

July 2, 2014

By Marivel Resendiz, Kerrville Daily Times, Texas

July 02--Jay Lockwood, 17, is the oldest of six siblings and comes from a large family that relies on one income. Jay was asked by his parents to plan for his future before he was accepted into Texas A&M University.

"We've always been aware of the extreme high cost of college," said Kerri Lockwood, Jay Lockwood's mother. "But my husband and I made a commitment to not go into debt ourselves or have our children take out loans with which they would have to dig out of before they could live their lives."

The Lockwoods consider secondary education an investment, which their children have to work to achieve, either by earning scholarships or working to pay for it. But they're not the only ones. According to Discover Student Loans, the number of families that say they will help their children pay for college has declined from 81 percent to 77 percent.

"I think if they work for it, they'll have pride and ownership over something," Lockwood said. "Whether it's their first vehicle or a college education, they're more likely to take care of it. I think they'll take it more seriously, work harder and not want to waste it."

According to the student loan survey, 15 percent of families said they believe children should pay for college on their own, up from 12 percent in 2012, and 32 percent said children should pay for most costs, up from 27 percent in 2012.

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the average student paid $21,978 a year for tuition, room and board, transportation and miscellaneous costs for a four-year Texas university education.

To help their children cover the expenses, Lockwood said the family identifies their children's strengths they can use to their advantage. Lockwood said Jay has always performed academically well. He was encouraged to enroll in Advance Placement courses, and he began studying for the PSAT for 30 minutes a day his sophomore year.

By his senior year in high school, Jay received a high enough score on his PSAT to become a National Merit Scholarship finalist, and he received a full ride to Texas A&M University.

"It took planning on our part to recognize the gift of each of our children and emphasize on them," Lockwood said.

The Lockwoods plan to take a different approach with their second son, Andrew, 15. He plans to attend a community college before choosing a major at a four-year university.

Once Andrew is older, he may begin looking for a job to help cover additional college costs. Jay worked at McDonald's for a year, and 80 percent of his earnings went into a savings account.

"We have to be realistic. College is not about the experience; it's about the goal. And the goal is education," Lockwood said.

Toni Bryant, director of financial aid at Schreiner University, said she sees more students paying for college themselves. About 45 percent of their students are eligible for the Pell Grant, a federal program that provides financial assistant to low-income students.

"If they're eligible for the grant, then you know they're in a family where they have to pay for college themselves, are borrowing loans or are already under significant strains," Bryant said.

Bryant said the cost of a college education doesn't have to be a financial hardship, Bryant said. This year, Schreiner University will award about $10 million in scholarships to students.

"We tell people, go through the process; find out everything you can be eligible for, and make a decision based on that information," Bryant said.


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Source: Kerrville Daily Times (TX)

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