I've read U.S. News's coverage of this [paying for college] for years, and it always seems to leave out the possibility of military service as a viable means to funding an education ["The 4 Rules of Paying for College in a Recession," usnews.com]. While I recognize that to many parents an enlistment is a scary prospect (especially now), for many it has been the most direct path to a college degree and the increased prosperity that results. You may not be aware, but the latest GI Bill can provide almost $80,000 in college benefits for troops who serve in the post 9/11 military, including tuition and stipends. As for me, I'm about to retire after 26 years of active service. Thanks to the GI Bill, I completed my graduate degree and am going back for more. Yes, I've been to some dangerous places, and there have been extreme hardships. But I think the experiences, friends, and pride of service that I've known are worth it. Student loans—I don't think so!
Comment by Bill T. of TX
I have one child in college and two more on the way. My kids have excellent GPAs, are athletically active, involved in the community, etc. But my investments are worth half of what they were a year ago, and college tuition continues to rise. My oldest child received a merit scholarship to her college of choice only to see it worth nothing due to the increase in tuition. What are colleges doing to help hold the line on expenses? Is a college degree really worth the price (especially if there are no jobs when you graduate)? We need to start thinking about alternatives.
Comment by Diane of MA
In some ways, the economy may actually create some opportunities as most private schools are afraid that many students will not attend their university. Due to this fact, many have decided to increase the amount of merit scholarships they are offering. While applying to in-state schools is a great idea (there will be intense competition this year, because it is the largest graduating class ever, and with the economy some surveys show one-half the parents are limiting their children to applying to in-state state schools), if you apply to out-of-state schools you might not get as much money, and you risk high tuition hikes as states cut back on their budgets. There are a few good ways to find "financial safety." In addition to looking at the list of schools that meet full-need, you can look at schools that have large endowments; they tend to give good aid packages.
Comment by James Maroney of CT
The biggest secret to getting money for a squeezed middle-class family is private schools. They need you. They want you. They are, in my experience, much more generous. Make sure that you have your student apply to a private school or two where their GPA/ACT will put them in the top third.
Comment by Neal of IL
Turns out, too, that your college [choice] may deny your entry if you need too much aid and you are a minimally desirable student. With aid dollars short, you should apply as early as possible. Yes, some colleges do look at your financial need as well as your grades.
Comment by Charles of FL
Crazy for Coupons
With the economy the way it is I wouldn't have food to feed my kids without coupons ["Wife Swap: The Couponing Edition," usnews.com]. We use coupons and rebates to buy in bulk, but we either use all of it or give it to people who need it. How could that possibly be a bad thing? If you have the room, the time, and the ability to match, you can get almost anything for free! Done correctly, any family can have plenty of food and actually be able to afford it. Don't knock it until you try it.
Comment by Caren of FL
I've been doing coupons, refunding, and rebates for over 25 years. I've only kept track of my refunds and rebates for the last four to five years. I really don't have time to track minimal coupon savings when I save $5 to $10, but when I save $40, that's a significant savings. Last year my total for refunding and rebate offers was almost $9,000. Time is money, and we have more of it because of my profitable hobby.
Comment by Debbie of TN
I fully believe there is a happy medium. I use coupons. However, I spend money on my appearance. If I happen to have a coupon, then great; if not, oh well. I save at least $300 to 500 a month on things I normally buy. It's been a very easy way to stretch our dollars. I've gotten some great perks out of using coupons; like free massages and pedicures from buying products I already use. I have no problem paying for my kid's sports knowing that I'm saving money in other areas. In this economy, those who are savers are going to be the ones who come out on top.
Comment by Wendy F. of CA
I agree with the excessive restocking to some extent. It's nice for people who have unfinished basements to store extras, but I agree with Kim Palmer—it takes up a lot of space. Also, how much toilet paper does one family need, anyway? Most things that can be bought with coupons periodically go on sale, so it's not worth loading up on more than a three-months supply.
Comment by Laura C. of VA
Praise for Obama and Team
Now this is why I voted for President Obama ["In Obama White House, New Rules on Day 1," usnews.com]! The level of transparency he's installing into his government is the most open of any of his predecessors in American history! This is the way government should've been run since day one but, somehow, officials thought they had to be secretive and withhold from the American people all that they should/need to know. Congrats on closing the revolving door of lobbyists and Washington, D.C.
Comment by Sean Hannah of AK
At last we have elected two men who are totally committed to making our United States of America a better country, guiding our nation through a successful financial recovery, and most of all assisting the people of our great nation to realize each and every one of their dreams. I had no doubt that they would hit the floor running and immediately start work on turning this country of ours around. At last we have a government for the citizens ("people") of the United States of America instead of for the rich and famous. The working people who live and work in our great country are the backbone of our nation and deserve much more than we've received in the last eight years.
Comment by Beverly Benn of TX
I am quite pleased to see the changes being made within the Obama administration. At this time in my life (60 years) and many visits to the polls, I have never seen such positive measures beginning to take place under any president yet. I will continue to watch, and I am sure this is the foundation that we can rebuild to the level that our Founding Fathers had intended.
Comment by James Leonard of IL