Laura Sell of Durham, N.C., said she and her husband send their children to private school, “but we certainly don’t pay for it with loans. We scrimp on vacations and dinners out. We drive ten-year-old cars. Pretty much my entire salary goes to the tuition for the two of them. But if one of us lost our job and we couldn’t afford the school anymore, it would be off to public school with the kids. We love the school but it’s not worth sacrificing our retirement or our credit rating for it.”
Nadine Wong of Beaverton, Ore., made a great point about how delusional some parents can be in thinking that an expensive grade school will increase their children’s chances for scholarship money.
“Come this fall, my husband and I will be putting two kids through college, and in the near future a third one will be on his way,” Wong wrote. “Like any other parent, we want the best possible education for them. However, our take on those parents who want to take out loans to pay for K-12 education and [who are] betting on scholarships: Don’t.”
Wong is right. Very few students receive enough scholarships and grants (including state and federal need-based and non-need-based aid) to cover all college costs, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.com, which provides some of the best financial aid information available online.
Of the students who were enrolled fulltime at four-year colleges in the 2007-08 school year, only 0.3 percent (not 3 percent but 0.3 percent) received enough scholarship money to cover the full cost of attendance.
Only about one in 10 undergraduate students in bachelor’s degree programs wins a private scholarship, on average about $2,800 a year. Turns out students from private high schools win just slightly more scholarships and other merit-based aid than students attending public high schools, Kantrowitz points out in his book “Secrets to Winning a Scholarship.” And the money they do win is hardly enough to compensate for the higher cost of private school tuition.
Tia Lewis contributed to this report.
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