College Peril—Not completing it in four yearsSubmitted by Financial Planning Solutions, LLC on September 7th, 2017
The cost of college is already staggering for many families. How could it get any worse? When it takes more than four years to complete.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only about 40% of full-time students graduate on time.1 There can be a lot of reasons for the delay including course availability, not earning enough credits or having to stop taking classes to work to pay expenses.
Whatever the reason, the delay can be a double-whammy—having to pay for another year of tuition, room & board and also a delay in entering the workforce to begin earning money. So, even though a fifth year might cost another $30,000-50,000, a year of earning money can be lost at the same time.
For families that are concerned about this possibility, they should encourage their son or daughter to take a full load of courses from the first year. This can increase the likelihood that the student will stay engaged with their program and finish on time.
Another way to speed up college and lower the four-year cost is to accelerate the program. One way is to take courses over the summer. Many colleges offer some courses during the summer. Because not all courses are offered during that session, the student will need to coordinate these courses with the rest of their academic schedule.
Colleges have a stake in this, too. Finishing on time helps to improve their graduation rate and lower their drop-out rate—key metrics that schools like to advertise to prospective students. Students can check with their academic advisors about the best way to complete the program on time.
While this subject does not usually come up as a student prepares to go off to college, it can be an unpleasant surprise.
Try to stay engaged with your son or daughter about the importance of finishing on time. It will help you to control your costs and improve their chances for success.
If you have questions about how to help your son or daughter graduate on time, give us a call. We’re here to help.
1 Source: The Wall St. Journal, “The High Price of Not Completing College in Four Years” by Lisa Ward, June 12, 2017, p. R5.
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