A handbook for families preparing to pay for college.
In this debut education book, Okun, an experienced college counselor, shares thorough and level-headed advice for understanding the factors involved in determining the cost of attending college and the options that exist for paying the amount due, acknowledging the challenges while urging parents not to become overwhelmed. While Okun guides the reader through the technical elements of college financing, like the expected family contribution, the FAFSA, and the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, the book gives equal emphasis to the importance of communication. Okun urges parents to begin discussions of the financial aspects of college early in the process, in order to prevent misunderstandings over who will pay—and how much—by the time the student is ready to enroll: “Having your child involved at each point along the way helps them understand what it means to be financially responsible.”  After an in-depth look at 529 plans, scholarship resources, and evaluating financial aid packages, the book’s final section addresses the personal finance challenges confronting college students, from easy-seeming credit card offers during orientation to the realities of loan repayment after graduation. Okun is clearly knowledgeable about the financial aid process, and the book’s explanations of complex and acronym-laden topics are easy to follow, and URLs point the reader to further information from reputable sources. The book does maintain a narrow focus on its intended audience—the parents of teenagers planning on full-time enrollment at a four-year college or university—and as a result does not address the financial aid challenges and funding opportunities facing non-traditional and part-time students. There is also no mention of the student-debt problems associated with for-profit colleges. But for readers who fit the book’s target demographic, Okun has provided a valuable tool in the college planning process by being realistic but not unduly alarmist about the challenges of paying for a child’s college education and strategies for making the financial burden a manageable one.
An informative guide to the complexities of affording and paying for a child’s college education.