Why Turn Down Free or Low-Cost College?

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If you have a 12th grade student and he or she was NOT 3.8 (Unweighted) AND 1300+ on Math and Verbal on the SAT and your family income was less than $40,000, with a family of two and $56,000 with a family of three to four, please have a good reason that your youth would NOT attend a California State University or a University of California.  Why?  CSU and UC cost essentially nothing out of packet for this group of students.

The additional cost varies from $12,000 per year to $55,000 per year if CSU or UC is not chosen.  This usually translates to a total 4-5 year college debt of $40,000 to $250,000!!!  This is a debt that I have seen change parents' lives, careers/jobs and even marriages.  As a leader in God's church this causes me GREAT concern.  You will notice that I said PARENTS' lives and not youth's.  That's because due to a change in Student Loan process during the last Federal Administration (in 2010), the only practical alternate college loan is a Federal PARENT LOAN.  In fact, due to the change in Federal Student Loan policy, it's now illegal for private companies and nearly all banks to offer alternate student loans.

Therefore why should or would a parent take on debt when a CSU or UC would have offered ZERO debt?

Certainly, I have heard many answers to this question over the years, but usually it revolves around students not wanting to go to school "in state" and parents who feel compelled (for many interesting and understandable reasons) to give the student their "dream schools" since they worked hard in college.  However, students should ALWAYS get the school they earned with their GPA and SAT.  However, students and parents needed to understand that if the student's GRADES were higher, his or her choices would have been wider.

Another reason parents reject the ZERO DEBT option is that they feel erroneously that the educational option away from UC or CSU is SIGNIFICANTLY better.  However, over the years, I have had equal numbers of students successfully start their careers and lives in state and out and all different types of colleges.

There are other reasons I have heard such as race, pressure from relatives and lack of understanding of cost before agreeing to attend, but my only point is be sure you understand and address the increased cost before your youth picks a college.


 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish."

- Jesus in Luke 14:28-30

Erica Copeland