College tuition sticker shock

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I took our teenage son, a high-school senior, to visit a few of the colleges he’d like to apply to. For the most part they seemed great, everything a parent could want for his child—except affordable! How does anyone afford college these days?

A: I’m so glad you wrote—my daughter and I just came back from a similar trip and I was amazed that admissions directors could actually say the words, “$52,000 per year” with a straight face. Unfortunately, though, tuition sticker shock is no joke. According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, two-thirds of four-year students graduate with an average student loan debt of nearly $20,000. One-fourth of those students borrow $24,936 or more, while a tenth borrow $35,213 or more. Those figures are probably a little lower for state schools, a lot higher for private schools.

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