College has become exceedingly expensive.
Cots have risen in the double digits for five of the past 10
years. Tuition has risen twice as fast as inflation in the same
period. By 1990, it will likely cost more than $20,000 to send your
child to Harvard or Stanford. By the end of the century, that
figure could double.
Last week, I discussed how to begin college planning. We talked
about some of the financial instruments available and when one or
another might be best, depending on your child's age.
Today, we'll discuss creating a financial plan and figuring out
how much this experience is going to cost you.
Much of your education planning depends on your child's age
right now. Fidelity Investments has something called a ``College
Cost Worksheet'' which can be sent to you. It begins by asking your
child's age and how many years until he or she enter college. Next,
you enter your estimate of college costs.
Now, let me interrupt here for a moment. You're probably
saying, ``How in the heck should I know how much college costs?''
Well, rest easy, there are several ways to quickly find out.
One is a book published by U.S. News and World Report magazine.
It's called ``The U.S. News Guide to America's Best Colleges'' and
costs $7.95 at bookstores and news stands. It describes 1,300
colleges nationwide, including statistics on the percentage of
graduates who are placed in jobs, financial aid and, of course,
costs. There are also several articles with tips on getting into a
plan for paying for college.
If you have a personal computer, there are two excellent
programs to help you with the college experience.
- One is called ``The Perfect Score,'' which helps your child
prepare for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
- The other is ``The Perfect College,'' which helps you pick
colleges or universities according to your own criteria. It's
called a database program, and you choose what you're interested in:
location, costs, academic interests, size and so forth, 26
categories in all. When you select your criteria, the program finds
all the schools that meet them.
Now, if you have a personal computer and a modem for
telecommunications, you also can get information ``on-line'' from
CompuServe. The CompuServe service is called ``Peterson's Guide to
Four-Year Colleges 1988,'' and there is one for two-year colleges as
You are introduced to the program through menus that help you
search the database, similar to using ``The Perfect College.'' You
have a menu of search features here too, including level of study,
entrance difficulty, costs, admission requirements and deadlines,
and so forth.
Well, one of these three sources should help you get focused on
college costs, so you can continue with your Fidelity College Cost
Worksheet. Tables help you determine inflation factors and rate of
return factors. …