You need to remember that:

1. Costs are still going up every year. Count on at least an average of 3% increase per year. I watched tuition over the past two increases at the 10 colleges my daughter was seriously considering (part of that spreadsheet smile ). They actually went up an average of 4% per year. If you assume (as I believe it was Dude?) does that costs won't rise as fast over the next 10-15 years, then use the 3%. But you have to remember that we are in a period of very low inflation in the rest of the economy now. If inflation takes off across the economy, costs rise for the colleges as well (although with their "normal" increases).

2. If you are saving 2/3 of your income, then your assets might be higher than the $100,000 that you plugged into the calculator. If you plugged in current assets vs what they will be in 10 years, obviously your results will look better.

extra curricular nonsense
This comment just makes me sad. My kid did mostly what she loved (I insisted on SOME kind of physical activity, so fencing isn't actually a beloved activity, but the best of a bad lot of athletic choices in her opinion... and like HK, sometimes the 4H projects she signed up for weren't something she was loving a week before the county fair). But all in all she would be a different (and less complete, less happy) person without them. Worry more about the whole kid and less about the cost of college, IMHO.

Hopefully some merit aid would reduce that.

Most colleges do NOT stack your merit aid. They might use it to offset loans in the FA package. Then they offset grants. Only if you will merit scholarships big enough to offset ALL the need based aid do they do you much good at most colleges. I think there are a few exceptions, but this is a very painful lesson learned again and again by students and parents. They work really hard for merit scholarships, then find their cost of attendance is unchanged.

5. Some of this talk bugs me because remember this -- every penny you get tuition reduced by through whatever means you use is paid for by someone else. It is paid for by a taxpayer or another parent/student (many of them saved more or have had two parents working to earn the tuition) or a donor to the university. The expectation in the US college system is that parents have the primary responsibility to pay for college. They are first in line -- help is intended for those who would not be able to attend college any other way. We haven't talked about this, but some kids choose to go abroad to college. McGill or St. Andrews or Oxford... those are also generally lower priced alternatives.

6. One thing we didn't talk about is your own kid's responsibility in all this. Obviously a kid can't cover these kinds of expenses on their own. We have told our kids since middle school that they own all book and spending money expenses for college. And the expenses of any unpaid summer internships they choose to take (common in areas like political science). So any monetary gifts they have gotten since then have gone almost entirely into their savings. Both had jobs the summer before college started, worked/will work on campus, and will have paid work most summers during school to cover these expenses. They are pretty frugal kids any way (books are about the only thing they ever buy). But making that expectation clear to them helped them be prepared and plan ahead.

Edited by intparent (07/24/13 05:21 AM)