Implications of Student Debt: A High School Perspective. Lynne Medsker Director of Guidance Westwood High School

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1 Implications of Student Debt: A High School Perspective Lynne Medsker Director of Guidance Westwood High School

2 Role of the High School Guidance Counselor Counselors begin working with students on postsecondary planning as early as ninth grade Freshman and Sophomore Years Create a four-year academic plan (9 th grade) Focus on career and college major exploration (10 th grade) Junior & Senior Years Begin college search (11 th grade) Complete college search and send applications (12 th grade)

3 How are high school guidance counselors advising students for college entry?

4 Financial Impact on College Search Process Given current economic climate families are paying close attention to tuition costs when choosing colleges Guidance Office encourages parents to have the conversation early about affordable college options Guidance Office recommends having at least one financial safety school Increase in number of students attending state colleges and universities

5 Increase in Students Attending State Colleges University of Massachusetts Amherst had more than 34,400 students apply for admission last fall 6 percent increase from the prior year Applications have more than doubled since fall of 2003 Admission is increasingly selective; 62 percent of students who applied were admitted for the fall, compared with an acceptance rate of 66 percent in fall 2011 and 82 percent in fall 2003 At Westwood High School we have seen the percentage of students attending Massachusetts state colleges double in the past three years

6 Other Considerations Students can be courted by colleges that really want them to attend A student s safety school might offer more in the way of financial aid and scholarships This is an important consideration for many families Many schools out of the New England region have significantly lower tuition costs That coupled with the colleges seeking geographic diversity means that students can benefit in the form of financial aid and scholarships

7 Is the financial aspect (and student debt) considered?

8 Considering Financial Aspect We are seeing an increase in family s requests for college scholarships, colleges that give good financial aid, etc. We have seen an increase in attendance at our annual Financial Aid Night This includes increase in attendance for parents of 9 th & 10 th grade students

9 Parents Need to Educate Themselves About Paying for College Family needs to get educated Understand they have the primary responsibility for contributing to the student s education Expected Family Contribution (EFC) An estimate of how much a family is expected to contribute toward student s education for one year Calculated with a formula that s the same for every family

10 Options for Paying College Bill Past Income Savings Other Assets Present Income Salary Payment Plans Future Income Parent Loans Student Loans

11 Not everyone is thinking long term... Families and students in particular are not always thinking about debt four years from now, and another ten years beyond that More concerned with immediate costs

12 MEFA & Fidelity Investments: 6 th Annual College Savings Indicator Families in the Massachusetts continue to struggle to meet their college savings goals Nationwide, only 31% of parents with college-bound children are considering the total cost of college, including: graduating with debt the impact of school selection how the major their children choose could affect job prospects and earning potential

13 6 th Annual College Savings Indicator (cont d) Of those families addressing these issues, 61% are actively making changes to their planning choices to better manage potential post-graduation debt Among those adjustments 38% of families are opting for less expensive colleges 28% are planning to rely more heavily on financial aid 16% are asking their children to change majors to secure better salaries after graduation

14 Is career choice and tuition considered in alignment with student debt?

15 Is Career Choice Considered? Parents are showing more concern about potential majors More so than students Parents want their children to be employable after they graduate, particularly during this time of high unemployment Students not always in tune to this

16 Parents Encouraging Majors with High Expectations for Earning Potential MEFA/Fidelity study asked parents with children already in college or starting college this fall about their expectations for their future graduates 42% have encouraged children to focus on a particular major in hopes of securing a higher paying job after graduation Most recommended majors: Computer science Nursing Engineering Psychology Biology Accounting

17 Other Considerations Considering colleges that offer paid internship opportunities Looking at colleges that offer 5-year programs combining Bachelor and Master degree programs Enrolling in state colleges for undergraduate education; intend to pursue private colleges for graduate school

18 Final Thoughts Parents must educate themselves and think about college long before high school Establish 529 College Savings Plans Utilize on-line resources as time draws closer College savings calculator (fidelity.com) Financial aid calculator (mefa.org) Parents need to have conversations with their child early in the application process so everyone is on the same page Avoid disappointment of first choice college not being an option Decide what is a reasonable amount of debt for a student to take on Student debt can turn into parent debt

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