College Sense: Education Costs Rising, But Where's the Money to Pay for It?

I entered undergrad during a bad recession just after my father, the sole breadwinner, lost his job, requiring a lot of paper shuffling, waiting tables and loan shopping to get me through. The payoff was worth every penny.

There is no doubt that education pays. A bachelor’s degree can earn you 60% more than a high school diploma, totaling an average of $800,000 to $1 million over a lifetime. However, education also costs. College costs rise twice (or more) the rate of inflation, last year around eight percent. And these costs, factored into a dismal economy, job loss, a shrinking retirement and vanishing equity can weigh as heavy as an anchor, swinging side by side with the guilt we grapple with as parents trying to give the next generations everything we can.

For many of us, there is no question about our kids not finishing their education. The question now is, how to pay for it? Where’s the money? Outside of the $143 billion out there in financial aid, for those who don’t qualify the money must come from a combination of our ever burdened, shrinking wallets, summer gigs and hefty loans.


But it can be done. All this week OTM will bring on the experts and show you how we can pay for school, even when the market seems to have swallowed up our college savings whole. From 529s to FAFSA forms to facing those loans after graduation, our goal is to help you get it done, get that degree and manage the years it may take to dig out of debt. After all, there are few bills we pay that come with this much promise.