How to Afford a College Education

If you add a little to a little, and then do it again, soon that little shall be much.” —Hesoid

A very wise woman once told me that money provides freedom in life, and a college education is expensive at around $60,000 to $80,000 a year (with room and board) at the time of this writing in 2022.  If you are extremely rich, you don’t have to worry about this part.  However, for the rest of us, money for education is something we need to consider as soon as your kid is born.  There are groups on Facebook about paying for college for high income families.

You have 18 years to come up with the money: how will you spend these 18 years?  If you have a rich relative who is kind, perhaps you can get him or her to start a college fund for your child.  Even if your kid has a college fund, keep on adding to it every year, because you just never know if you will need more money. What if your kid wants to attend graduate school after college?  However, if the rich relative never appears, you need to start a college fund yourself as soon as possible.  A 529 account is a tax-free account for college as long as the expenses are used for college.  If you do not withdraw from the fund, your child can continue to keep the fund and use it for her child’s educational expenses.

Whatever you do, invest early and invest often.  Invest as soon as the kid is born. 

We used the Mass Mutual calculator to see how much one needs to save for a kid born today (2022):

When your first child goes to a private 4-year college in 2040, their total estimated tuition will be $517,293.

To fund your children’s education you need to save $1,251 per month until 2043.

In addition to your contributions of $320,346, your college savings could grow by $196,947 over 22 years.

Based on this calculator, you need to save $15,012 per year around 21 years.  If you split the savings into months, it makes the amount a bit easier to stomach. One thing you need to watch out for is not to be too aggressive with your investment choices as your kid becomes closer to college-age.  Yes, in 2021, the S&P 500 returned 26.89% but so far in March 2022, the S&P returned negative 12.17%.  You can lose so much money in just a few months if you are not careful!   If you are in a 529 account, make sure to stick to the age of the child recommendations in the fund.  Look at what happened to the stock market between 2021 and 2022 before you get too confident that your money will keep on going up and your child is close to going to college (as in within a year or less). 

There are Facebook pages about affording college.  One of the more popular ones is called Paying for College for High-Income Families 101.  It is good just to lurk and read posts by parents to learn how people are saving and trying to afford college.

Another thing to trick yourself to save if you are a parent is to increase the taxes that your employers take out of your paycheck so that you get a bigger refund at tax time.  If you claim single and zero deductions, the employer will take out a lot more for taxes.  Or, you can just ask them to take out more taxes.  Then, you or your accountant can file your taxes using the formula for married filing jointly (if that is your situation) and you will get a huge tax refund especially if you have child tax credits and other tax deductions such as a mortgage.

Apply for as many scholarships as possible.  You never know, maybe someone will give you some money for college.  Your high school guidance counselor should be emailing opportunities for scholarships.

I have heard good things about work study, but if your child needs to concentrate on school, it is up to you whether this is a good thing for you.  Of course, there are people who have no choice but to work, and this is fine too.

If you are a student who is reading this and your parents did not save any money for your education, should you take out loans?  Often, this is the only way you can stay in school.  Yes, you might owe a lot of money when you graduate, but you have a chance to make something of your life with this degree.  With some hard work, ambition and smarts, you will never lose money with an Ivy League degree.  An Ivy League education is the best investment you can make in yourself.  You will gain access to a group of people who can help you in so many ways.  Let me tell you about a girl who was offered an opportunity to go to law school.  She was working in a retail store at the time, and she could not quit any faster.  She left the store with a big bag of books that she purchased at the bookstore for her courses, and never looked back.  She signed for the student loans and just concentrated on her school work.  She did not know this, but the tuition they charged was a bargain because the tuition would increase tremendously year after year.  When she got married, her husband’s family paid off her student loans.  She worked as an attorney and became a self-made millionaire due to the blind faith that she would succeed one day.  That is manifestation, ladies and gentlemen.  Believe that it will happen and it will.

How to Get Rich by Attending an Ivy League University

Here are some ways people get rich by going to an Ivy League college:

  1. Job at a Top Firm

If you look on Linkedin, you will see the school of each person’s account and the company where they work.  More often than not, the most prestigious companies have the most number of Ivy Leaguers.  There are at least four different types of companies where you can make lots of money right out of school: technology, finance, consulting and law firms.  These companies concentrate their recruiting at Ivy League universities most often.  Therefore, if you just get a job at a top firm, make the high salaries, save your money, max out the 401k and other retirement plans, you will do very well.

2. Start their own Companies

Did you know Warby Parker was started by UPenn graduates?  The Ivy League is full people who have started innovative technology companies.  According to Forbes, in an analysis of 13,000 startup founders, Pitchbook added first-round funding between 2006 and the end of August 2019 by the startup founder’s university, 9 out of the 10 top schools for venture capital (VC) came from the United States’ Silicon Valley and Ivy League universities.  The colleges that boasted the most VC-backed startups are Stanford, UC Berkeley, MIT, Harvard, University of Michigan, Tel Aviv, University of Texas and University of Illinois.  Stanford produced such companies as DoorDash and Snapchat.  Between 2012 and 2017, the following universities produced students with the most successful patent applications (indicator of innovation): Stanford, MIT, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of Washington, UNC Chapel Hill, KU Leuven (Belgium), University of Southern California, Cornell and Imperial College London (UK). 

3. Network with Classmates and Alum

Ivy Leaguers tend to trust other Ivy Leaguers, so they are more interested in networking with their fellow classmates and alumni.  When you are looking to start a company, or are seeking a job, you are more likely to be successful when reaching out to former classmates in the network.  Some places to network include LinkedIn and the Ivy Clubs, as well as alumni associations.

4. Marry a Rich Classmate

According to Forbes, the most number of billionaires come from the Ivy League, many of whom inherited family money. Inheritance and marriage remain the top way that people become wealthy, and there is a large concentration of single wealthy individuals at Ivy League universities. Read How to Get Your MRS Degree in College for more details.

The Ivy League is Not a Dream!

newly graduated people wearing black academy gowns throwing hats up in the air

The Ivy League is Not a Dream

Get Admitted to Top Universities and Get Rich!

The Ivy League is not a dream! So many parents and kids have dreams of getting admitted into a top university. My kid was just admitted into an Ivy League college, and I am sharing my story for any parent to be able to do the same: help your child to get into the best schools and get excellent test scores. In intermediate school, my kid scored high enough on the Specialized High School Achievement Test (SHSAT) to get into Stuyvesant High School and then got a near-perfect score on the SAT. Tutoring and hard work had a lot to do with it. The number one thing to remember is not to force your child to do anything. I was ecstatic when my daughter Angelica scored high enough on the state exam to be allowed to take the Hunter College High School exam. However, she did not want to go to that school, so she quit the tutoring that I sent her to. I did not force it, and was surprised when she wanted to take the exam anyway. She did not do well on the essay, because her heart was not in it. Then when it came time for the SHSAT for high school, my child was used to the format of the test, because most standardized tests are pretty much similar. What if you do not live in New York City? Consider moving to a neighborhood with excellent public schools. Great Neck South High School is one of the most highly rated schools in New York and they even have a golf team!

I am personally a proponent of public schools, because I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and public schools are great if your child gets into the honors and specialized programs. I just watched a documentary on HBOMAX about Avenues, a private school that costs $40,000+ a year that is next to a housing project in Chelsea, and according to the Avenues website, only about 33 students out of 300 got into the Ivy League. I will have to do more analysis to see if it produces many more Ivy Leaguers than public high schools in New York. I did hear, however, that many of the prep schools in New York are feeder schools to the Ivy League and send about 30% of graduates to the Ivies each year. So, by that estimate, 30% of 300 should be 90 students, and compared to prep schools, Avenues is not getting as many of their students admitted to the Ivy League. This is only assuming that the end goal for sending a kid to a private school is to get the kid into an Ivy League college. Send your child to private schools if your budget allows for it, but I was saving my money for tutoring and college.

The following are some tips on how I was able to help my child score so well on exams thus allowing me to become an Ivy League Mom!

Visit colleges as soon as you can. I do not mean visits in senior year of high school. I mean when your kid is around eight years old, start exposing the child to what colleges he can aspire to. Go on vacation to Connecticut and visit Yale; Madison Beach Hotel is close by and very relaxing (you can stay there for free with your Hilton weekend certificates, otherwise the hotel is quite pricey). Right now, if you apply for the Hilton Amex card, you can get 60,000 bonus points and a free weekend night certificate. Go to Boston on vacation and visit Harvard and MIT. While visiting the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, stop off at University of Pennsylvania. Show your kid what he can achieve with good grades. The Secret teaches us that we achieve what we set our minds to do. Therefore, we must show our kids what to focus on.

Pay for tutoring and start early, around the time of standardized tests for high school. In New York City, the big ones are the Hunter College High School Entrance Exam and the SHSAT. I brought my kid to Kaplan in Manhattan for SHSAT tutoring two years before the test. Then when the course was over, I paid for private tutoring by the teacher of the class. As a result of all the extra help in math, my daughter Angelica was able to well and is a math tutor for disadvantaged kids as an extracurricular activity. For the SAT, Angelica received tutoring in both English and math. She scored 1570 on her second try (the first try did not result in a high enough score). The need for tutoring has been confirmed by a Harvard dad: he and his son both attended Harvard, so he must know something we don’t. I asked him what was his secret. He said, “Spend the money on tutoring.” There you have it, ladies (and gentlemen, in case there are some dad readers snooping around here). Spend your money on tutoring.

What about college admissions consultants? If you can afford it, it will definitely take some stress off of the application process. The consultant will hold the college applicant’s hand throughout the process, with virtual consultations, essay writing help, advice on majors (the advice that was worth the money was to go for the less popular majors so there would be less competition), and generally being there during this stressful time. During the college application ordeal, it is very important to take care of yourself: exercise, eat right and get wellness treatments and massages.

For those parents with younger children:

As soon as you can, when your kid is around age three, get Hooked on Phonics and start teaching your kid to read. It does not take long. Just sit with your child a few minutes a day and soon he or she will be able to read. Yes, a three year old can read! When our three-year-old was sitting in the back of the car in her car seat and voiced the name of a restaurant, we could not believe it. After your kid starts to read, a whole new world will open up and your child will be years ahead of all the others.

Get your first month of Hooked on Phonics for just $1

Another thing to do as soon as possible is to order workbooks. Reading, math, grammar, spelling, vocabulary (root words) for your child’s grade and perhaps a few grades above that. You want to get a head start. Make it a game and give prizes and incentives for completing workbooks. Much cheaper than the thousands of dollars at Kumon and other learning centers. They sell Kumon workbooks on Amazon.

Kumon Workbooks

Train your kid’s brain with Sodoku puzzles. Get a baby Sodoku book on Amazon and start teaching your kid how to think logically. You are training the young brain for all the years of testing ahead, especially any tests with logic.

Of course, do not just focus on academics. Your child needs some fun. Put a tennis racquet or a golf club in your child’s hand and a decade later, she can wind up captain of the tennis team.

You might say, so much money and work to do all of the above. But as parents, we must sacrifice for our kids. You can save money by buying workbooks on Amazon instead of sending the kids to Kumon. You can apply for credit cards and stay in hotels for free with the points and free night certificates. Our reward is the bragging rights when our kids achieve great things. Who knows? You can probably use your child’s admission into the Ivy League for your own networking. After all, parents of Ivy League students and alum are allowed to join clubs in the city such as the Harvard Club, Yale Club, Cornell Club, etc. Also, some parents have been known to use their kids’ school connections to help with their own businesses, such as a realtor who used her kids’ private school parent list to sell real estate. There are no guarantees in life, but you reap what you sow.

How to Get Free Stuff at 7-Eleven and CVS

Tuition at an Ivy is expensive and orange juice is at an all time high, so we all need hacks to save a little money. I just figured out how to save 50% off at 7-Eleven. There is a coupon on the Uber Eats app for 50% off a minimum $30 purchase at convenience stores. If you go pick the stuff up, no need to tip! If you are going to a 7-Eleven, by definition a convenience store, meaning it’s close by, so why get it delivered? Unless you need to quarantine, which by all means, please do.

So, to save even more, Amex adds $10 Uber cash to my account every month. I try to take the bus when I can or just stay home, so I’m left with $10 in Uber cash every month. Yes, you can use Uber cash at Uber Eats! So, imagine all the Slurpees and Gatorades you can drink at 7-Eleven, all 50% off ( up to $20 per purchase) AND then you can use the $10 Uber cash= Free Stuff at 7-Eleven. Note the total came to $42.70 due to the addition of some Pringles and Nerds Gummies. If I had more self-control, I could have limited my purchase to $30, which would have made the total $15 plus tax, but it’s 50% off!

Similarly, this works for CVS as well since it is also classified as a convenience store on Uber Eats for certain items (however, they might not let you pick up, so then there is the delivery and tip). So you see how my frugal mind works, and this is how I became an Ivy League Mom. You’re welcome.

All this for $15!

Being Poor at an Ivy League College

One of my readers told me that the classmates at his Ivy League college would ask where he summered. Summer is a verb to many Ivy Leaguers! Summer? Flushing Meadow Park?’

All you need is cash

In this video, a Columbia student who is on scholarship describes her Thanksgiving scrounging around for food because all the campus food service was closed and she couldn’t afford to fly home for turkey. She also said that one of her classmates posted on the Columbia University Class Confessions Facebook page that she needs to be a sugarbaby/escort in order to survive.