Sending Your Kids to College: What Should You Really Expect?

Michael Wealth Management Group |

It’s no secret that the cost of pursuing higher education is becoming unaffordable, even for affluent families. But if you have aspirations of sending your child to college, it is possible, but there are some details to consider.

According to the College Board’s Trends in Higher Education, the average budget for a public, four-year in-state education in 2021-2022 is $27,330. If your student is looking at a private college, it could cost around $55,800. These numbers seem astronomical, but when you estimate the costs involved in going to college, it’s easy to see how it adds up:

Table showing the average budgets that a student at an in-state, out-of-state, and private nonprofit college may have. It includes tuition, room and board, books, and personal expenses

What Are Parents to Do?

If you’re serious about securing a college education for your child, you should start saving as early as possible. But this shouldn’t be done at the expense of your other financial priorities, such as retirement. You should consider your overall financial plan, and aim to direct your resources to your most important financial goals.

Unfortunately, depending on your situation, it may not be possible to save enough to fund a college education. So where will the funding come from?

Financial Aid

It is estimated that 83% of college students benefit from financial aid. Even affluent families can qualify for financial aid through federal grants as well as colleges themselves. Determining financial aid eligibility can be somewhat complicated, but the general formula considers your child’s assets first and then determines a family contribution portion of aid. It’s recommended that you start financial aid planning as early as high school.


Future college students don’t need to be the brightest or most athletic to receive scholarships. There are scholarships of all forms and sizes available. Though some may seem small, they can add up. Your school counselor and community leaders can help you learn more about finding various scholarships.

Education Loans

Though more widely available, school loans can be a double-edged sword for students. Approximately 43.4 million college students graduate with federal student loan debt, and about 15% of student loans are in default. Borrowing for college expenses should be a last resort, but, if it’s done within the context of a well-conceived financial plan, it may not become an insurmountable burden.

Being able to afford higher education for your child can be challenging, but it’s possible. If you’re not sure how saving for your child’s college fits within your overall financial plan, consider speaking with a financial professional.


College Board, Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2021,

Hanson, Melanie. “Financial Aid Statistics”, February 15, 2021,

Hanson, Melanie. “Student Loan Default Rate”, December 19, 2021,

Hanson, Melanie. “Student Loan Default Rate”, December 19, 2021,

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