I had a parent accuse me recently of employing "scare tactics" in order to convince him that he should plan for his student's college education and that he would just take the "wait and see" approach that so many families take. Like I said in an earlier post, so many families are already in fear. Why would I employ "scare tactics" in a situation where fear is already so prevalent? I think he was just scared and didn't know where to direct his anxiety. I was an easy target.
The truth is that so many families are afraid and they should be. There is so much mis-information. Look at the facts...so many families in Georgia are planning for a 4-year degree that, for most families, really takes 6 years to finish. 52% of the students in GA colleges finish within 6 years. The other 48% take longer than 6 years or just don't finish. THESE ARE THE FACTS. The Hope Scholarship only covers students for 4 years and the requirements to obtain AND keep this scholarship keep escalating. Even more families I meet think that they already have a "college plan" because their advisor placed neon signs (529 plans) on their money for the colleges to see. I hope the tax benefits were worth it since these balances don't even come close to covering half of the first year of college and can even lose value in the market.
Families should also be aware that scholarships and aid are awarded in a way that they do not even suspect or understand. I talk a lot about enrollment management and how private consultants are re-shaping the way colleges pay and admit students. Yet, many parents remain skeptical and think that these consultants do not even exist. This is a practice that many colleges simply do not like to talk about. I have seen families do the research and benefit from this information. I have also seen families place their bets on a few real life examples of families and friends and go on to overpay for college.
I'd like to thank Maggie McGrath at Forbes magazine for her piece on how enrollment management is changing college in America. Again...not a scare tactic, just solid facts that every parent planning for college should know about. We can help families counter these strategies. Most families just don't stand a chance doing this alone. I have placed a link to this informative piece below.