TO COLLEGE AND BEYOND!

    After all of that we discussed you may say to yourself how will we ever afford college for my Millennials especially if you have more than one?  Believe  me every middle class family is asking themselves that question just about the time their young millennial becomes a junior in high school or even earlier.  The average middle class income is between $75000 and $200000 per year.  This is a comfortable income and quite capable of raising a family, however when you throw in the average cost of tuition room and board for a year $33000/ year for private and almost $10000 for tuition alone in public schools this is not going to be nearly enough income to sustain a degree.

    My father always warned me about the dangers of being house poor.  This along with several other shady financial dealings lead to the 2008 great recession.  I am concerned that many Americans are going to end up being tuition poor.

    The average college savings of parents is at an all time high of $21000..  This is a very good thing for our parents.  The problem however with the average private school tuition of $33000 this would barely pay for one semester let alone a 4 year degree.

    These statistics are alarming.  I am so proud of our country and the efforts we have made to educate people on preparing for college however college is out expense is outgrowing our ability to save exponentially.

    Something must be done if we want to continue to educate our populace in a manner that is both fiscally responsible and feasible.  We can discuss what our countries options should be at a latter date, however what do we do in the now.

    If you are the parent of a still elementary age millennial I would suggest you save every penny you can possibly afford.  Put it in a fund that is untouchable and prepare to the best of your ability to send your child to an institution of higher learning.  Just as the Boy Scouts of America’s motto says be prepared.  Do everything in your power to prep for this ultimate moment in time.  

    For those of us who already have college age millennials or have millennials preparing for college we must face some certain facts that I will address.  

  1. Our children our likely going to leave college with some debt.  We must do everything we can to reduce this number but it is highly likely.
  2. Unless you have the next Ezekiel Elliott in your family the odds of them getting a full ride scholarship are minimal.  Only about 2 percent of high school athletes win sports scholarships every year at NCAA colleges and universities.
  3. Because our children are likely going to leave college in debt they may likely spend some of their adult life with us again.  So much for the empty nest.
  4. We all believe our children should be able to attend any school they want to but is that fiscally responsible.
  5. We are coming to a great crisis in this country with the debt of our college graduates.

    OK let’s address each of these with some thought.  1.) our children are likely going to leave college with debt.  $1.44 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt and 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt.  The numbers are staggering.  Remember when we said the auto companies were too big to fail so we gave them $700 billion to save them.  Our student loan debt is substantially larger than this.  Certainly this is too big to fail.

    We have removed all forms of personal finance and accountability lessons from most schools.  It falls on us parents to teach our youth fiscal responsibility and the best way to manage this debt.  We have to prepare our children as to how to get themselves out of debt as quickly as possible and still function and make a living.  This will involve helping them to understand sacrifice and needs versus wants.

    If your millennial has already graduated do everything in your power to get them to understand the need to pay off this debt.  Now if your millennial is like mine this may be more difficult than pulling teeth without Novocaine.  They will be resistant to this idea.  They are finally making a decent paycheck after college and the impulse will be to buy things they want versus thinking of things they need.  The other danger that I see occurring with millennials is the desire to get married to someone who also has student loan debt.  We have to help them understand that fiscal responsibility should come before marriage.

    Issue number 2; maybe because I have spent the better part of 23 years coaching this spot hits home.  I see parents pushing their kids, coaches and schools to get that scholarship.  Reality says getting a scholarship especially a full ride is a rare opportunity indeed.

    I cannot tell you the amount of times parents have complained to us saying we are ruining their child’s dream.  News flash all children have dreams that are just not obtainable.  We have pumped into the millennial brain that if you want it bad enough and you can work hard enough anything is possible.  Sorry heroes but this is not reality and it is one of the issues we face.

    Take for example myself.  I spent all my life working as hard as I could to be Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan.  I would be willing to wager I spent more hours than I have in any other endeavor in my life.  If we are to believe the millennial theory I should have been retiring from the NBA and making millions of dollars a year.  Reality was I am 5’11” and no amount of work would ever make me Michael Jordan.  

    Now you are saying you want us to tell our kids to stop dreaming?  The answer would be no however we should help curtail the dreams that cannot be reached by a dose of reality.  Every, and I do mean every parent believes their kid is good enough for a college scholarship by the way including me.

    We love our kids more than any coach or school could ever love them.  Have you ever heard the saying “Love is Blind”?  Our love for our children have blinded us to reality.  It is becoming ever more clear in our sports world with AAU basketball and Club soccer.  I understand I really do, If a parent pays thousands of dollars to these club sports they want results.  Unfortunately the truth is very very few will get a full ride scholarship.

    There is far more scholarship dollars for the average millennial in academics.  Push your children to excel in the classroom and they will likely be rewarded with at least some money to help pay for their tuition.  Let them enjoy being a young athlete instead of pushing them to the brink of insanity.  Let them make lifelong memories through sports and learn the value of teamwork and hard work.   If by some chance they are one of the 2% able to get a full ride then all the greater but let them enjoy the experiences of sport without the pressure of an unrealistic dream.

    Topic number 3 no more empty nesting.  Debt and the lack of jobs are forcing our college graduate millennials to spend a much longer time in our care that the past.  This can be compounded by families that they may have started or the facts that they want all the benefits of living with mom and dad with none of the responsibilities.  MY two sons certainly fall under these two categories.

    If we are to accept that our millennials may stay longer than we did as 20 somethings we must establish ground rules that they are to follow.  The difficulty of this is that love thing again.  We love our children and they know it, they use this to their advantage.  They do not want to be told what to do but they want breakfast on the table in the morning.

    Might I suggest you develop almost a border mentality with you child.  Make them pay rent, let them cook and buy groceries for themselves and make them live by the rules you establish.  I would not even be opposed to seeing families draw up contracts for their children to abide by.  

    If we are to provide them with a place to stay we must also provide them with a place to grow and move out on their own., holding their hand will encourage them to stay live off of the ease of our life instead of making it on their own.

    My ex wife still talks to my 23 year old like he is a baby.  My 23 accepts it and expects it but this is not the real world and we are doing a grave disservice to our children in doing so.

    Issue 4; We have been drilled into our heads since we were young that we should want or kids to have a better life than us.  Noble as this may sound we are not obligated to make this happen our millennials are!  We are to provide them ever means necessary and give them guidance and it is up to them to do with the American dream on their own.

    One of the biggest areas concerning is this is the selection of colleges and universities.  In our head we think our kids should be able to go to school wherever they choose in reality this is a self destructive behavior for both the millennial and the parent.  It gets back to what our job is, provide the best opportunity we can for our millennial to succeed.

    If you are a middle class parent with multiple children this is especially important.  If the state funded school provides a good education at a much reduced cost, then why not send our children there.  Now you are thinking this would be cruel and unusual punishment but is it not cruel and unusual punishment to start out 20 somethings thousands of dollars in debt?

    If debt reduction is our goal then start with the choice of schools.  Many great jobs can be had with state degrees.  Actually some of the larger state schools have resources that smaller private institutions cannot have.  Maybe they are the real ticket to the American dream.  For example The Ohio State University has over a half a million alumni spread out all across the globe.  This network may help millennials to secure life long employment for a fraction of the coast of a private institution.  

    If you look at it in those terms the choice is actually very very easy.  Choose the most inexpensive route to the degree the millennial wants to accomplish.  Maybe give them 3 state school options to choose from however do limit their choices, not only for your financial coast but also their financial future.

    Finally since our country has over 1 trillion dollars of student loan debt there is no way this can continue.  Default in  2016 was $137 billion dollars and the number rises every year.  At some point this current system we have is going to collapse.  One can only hope it does not drag our country down with it.  If the Autos were too big to fail what is student loan debt?  

    I urge you to seek out your representatives and encourage them to begin discussion on ways to resolve this crisis before it is too far gone.  There are many suggestions out there but because the educational system we currently  have is highly lucrative getting these institutions on board for major change is next to impossible.  The need for major change must first be pushed by the grassroots.  The groundswell of complaints and suggestions must be overwhelming and change must occur.

    If we do not make these changes the hope for the millennial American dream may fade forever from existence.

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