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How Did Your Family Pay For You To Go To College?

When saving alone just isn’t enough.

The cost of college has soared to highs that many families find unaffordable.

Average tuition, fees, and room and board is now $48,510 at private colleges and $21,370 at public universities, according to data from the College Board. Sure, many students don’t pay the full sticker price, but even with grants and scholarships, over half of people who have attended college incurred some debt, including student loans, credit card debt, home equity loans, or other types of loans, according to the Federal Reserve. Sometimes, their parents and grandparents take on debt for that too.

To contribute to their children’s college education, a lot of families make dramatic life changes, including some that financially set back parents (or other people helping to pay for tuition) by years. Often, this happens without students fully understanding the long-term consequences of such decisions.

Colleges calculate a family’s contribution when students apply for financial aid, but parents still don’t always find this calculation affordable when also accounting for expenses like their mortgage and car payments. If your family went to great lengths to help you pay for college, we’d like to hear your story.

For example, did your parents open a home equity line of credit or take out a second mortgage, borrowing against their stake in their home to afford tuition?

According to the Fed, 14% of parents and grandparents who have borrowed for their child’s or grandchild’s education took out a home equity loan.

Did one or both of your parents get a second job?

A 2018 survey found that 12% of parents considered this option to manage costs.

Did they ever discuss getting divorced in order to get more financial aid?

Did your family move to a more affordable neighborhood or even to a new state to qualify for in-state tuition benefits?

Did they withdraw from their retirement accounts or take out a 401(k) loan, potentially prolonging how long they will have to work?

About 18% of 401(k) participants had outstanding loans against their accounts in 2015, reported CNBC.

College affordability is a real issue, and can impact entire families in unexpected ways for years. If you have a story, we’d love to hear from you.

Please tell us, in as specific terms as you can, what they did (beyond normal budgeting and saving for college). How did you feel about their decision, and did you have any say? Did you still graduate with loans, even with their contribution, and if so, how much did you borrow? How has your family’s decision impacted you? We’re looking for stories about the incredible compromises parents, relatives, and friends take on to help pay for someone else’s education, rather than the things students do themselves. Please include your current age in your response, just for context. Your story could be featured in a BuzzFeed post or video.