Don’t Waste Tens of Thousands of Dollars on Higher Education

grad hatFive years at college and still no degree? It’s becoming more common than most of us realized.

I’m talking to a friend of mine the other day and he suggested something that I hadn’t really considered; there are ways to make the cost of a college education for my kids a better investment. There are a significant number of adult children (between 20 and 30 years old) still living with their parents.

It’s a phenomenon I’m not anxious to participate in. Whether we pay for our kid’s education or they get federal financial aid and student loans, I’m thinking that there needs to be a solid plan for their post high school education and that we need to get that plan in place now.

Call, text, or email me today!… I’d seriously enjoy having the opportunity to talk to you about your plans if you’re moving, or if you know someone who is considering a move, and needs some straight answers.

As the typical college undergraduate is taking an average of up to six years to complete their course work and graduate, the costs are going through the roof. When you consider the tens of thousands of dollars this can translate into for an education at a school like CU in Boulder (I’m not intentionally picking on CU, I just happen to be in Boulder so CU is top of mind for me), if there’s a way to reduce the time spent getting that degree it could be worth a look.

My friend Mike is Dean at DeVry University and we were talking about planning for our kids’ education. I think he’s got a clear plan for his kids given his current position! I actually just wanted to know more about what he does and when he started explaining it to me, I got pretty interested in what he had to say when he let me know that when compared to other private colleges and universities, DeVry University’s undergraduate costs are in the lowest one-third of every state in which they operate. Now, I told him that I had heard that DeVry was some sort of Vo-Tech. He said it wasn’t so and that in fact, it’s just the reverse.

Here’s a blurb I pulled from the DeVry website:

More than 90% of DeVry graduates hold positions in their chosen field within 6 months of graduation. This means you’ll earn more than a degree at DeVry. You’ll get career education that leads you straight into the professional world.

Everything we do at DeVry, from our career-oriented majors and our hands-on approach to learning to our practitioner faculty and accelerated schedules, is focused on your career success. Best of all, we have the stats to prove it.

So I started looking into this issue. One of the things I learned is that in some cases the reason students are taking so long to finish their degree is that they can’t get all the classes they need in the early years. It’s not that they’re lazy or partying all the time, it’s over crowded classes and class schedules. That was an eye opener for me.

There are some key issues worth considering when deciding on a college path:

1. Know your direction and goals.
Many students enter college without a plan. There’s a continuing trend in students to enter college and go straight for the business or liberal arts degree. Without learning where the gaps are in the job market, this is like shopping for groceries at the shoe store. The word on the street is that the U.S. is massively short on college grads with science and math degrees.

2. Full Time Students are more likely to graduate.
Apparently the longer we take, such as working on a degree part-time, the harder it is to actually finish.

3. Take longer than four years to graduation and it may cost you big-time.
Federal financial aid funding options are time-sensitive. That’s right, it’s not how many classes you have left necessarily. It’s how much time you’ve been in school. Many students are running out of their federal financial aid and having to supplement their education costs simply because they’re taking too long.

4. Full time students increase their earning potential.
Look at it this way: If you’re working now for $10/hour and you take 4 extra semesters to graduate, you’ve lost over $22,000 in potential earnings (assuming post graduate employment at an average of $18/hour for 1.3 years of full time work). U.S. Census Bureau data shows that earning a bachelor’s degree increases students’ earning potential by an average of 43 percent over those with just a high school diploma.

It seems that with a clear plan of action, full time attendance, and picking a school that can get you through the classes in only 3 years (instead of 4,5 or even 6 years) kids might find the key to success and cost savings along the way. Or, maybe that’s the parents saving money? In either case, knowing all you can about your choices is always a great approach.

My intention wasn’t to pitch DeVry or to guide you towards or away from any particular institution of higher education but rather to get you thinking. Just like any other part of life, if you have a goal that you’re enthusiastic about and emotionally attached to you can make it happen if you stay focused and create a tactical plan (call this your to-do list) to reach that goal.

Zachary Epps, GRI®, ABR®, MCNE®, REALTOR®, Eco-Broker®, full-time RE/MAX professional, RE/MAX Hall of Fame, RE/MAX Platinum Club…and author of

The Boulder Real Estate and Neighborhood Guide 

The Boulder Condo Guide 

The Home Buyer’s Handbook

Call, text, or email me today!… I’d seriously enjoy having the opportunity to talk to you about your plans if you’re moving, or if you know someone who is considering a move, and needs some straight answers.


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