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NJ Families Try Anything To Save On College Costs

As the cost of a higher education keeps going higher and higher, a growing number of Jersey parents are doing whatever they can to save money.

Flickr user: 401K 2012

Rutgers sociology professor Dr. Deborah Carr says, “One way is to have the child go off to a four year college like a Rutgers, but to still live at home – to save money on dormitory costs, meal costs…A second way to save money is to start the child off at a community college.”

She says, “What we think of as a ‘college experience’ has definitely changed, and also the kinds of students who goes to college has very much changed.”

Dr. Carr points out parents can simply send their kid off to college and let them live on campus.

“But then that child is going to have a lot of debt, they might not get a job, and they might be living back in the parents home again when they’re 22 or 23 after graduation.”

She says more and more parents are hyper-focusing on what classes their child is taking because they have a goal for their son or daughter, “which is to get a job, that’s going to basically get a return on that college degree.”

Dr. Carr adds having kids living at home while they’re attending college isn’t necessarily a negative. In fact, many times it’s a positive, since “we know that parents and kids are closer today than ever before, we know that they text 30 times a day, so for those parents who really enjoy being around their children I think it can be a good thing…But if the parents and the children have a strained relationship, if the parents are stressed about their own financial situation, if they’re working a couple of jobs, if their marriage is strained, if there are problems at the outset, then having the children in the home might amplify some of those problems.”

She also says children working and saving for college early on can be a good thing.

“It teaches them responsibility, it teaches them the fact that if they’re paying a bit for their college, they’re not going to waste their education by partying all the time…It only gets to be a problem if they’re working so many hours that they’re not able to dedicate themselves to their school work.”

Dr. Carr also says having students and their parents hyper-focusing only on careers that have good jobs “is limiting what education means. It’s merely a luxury today to be able to go to college and take liberal arts classes about things like philosophy and art history…When students are worrying about debt they’re not going to explore, they’re going to take practical classes that will lead directly to the career that they want – we’re producing students that are less-broadly educated.”


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