My #1 financial goal for my kids is debt-free education in a field that enables them to get paid.
With the very best of intentions, the US Government has completely screwed up both (a) the cost of college education and (b) the financial lives of the students they were seeking to help.
Debt isn’t free.
Every market juiced with easy money gets screwed up.
I googled up average debt at graduation and average graduation age.
$40,000 and 23 yo.
So let’s make three simple scenarios:
- Debt free early graduation (21 yo) => McGill 1990 finance grad
- Debt free at 25 yo
- Debt free at 30 yo
Let’s run it forward assuming:
- Investment return of 5%, prior year close
- $20,000 per annum savings
The late-start saver
- who saves at the same annual rate
- who earns the same return
ends up ~$1 million behind at 60 yo.
This is not the whole story, not even close!
In my demographic, families can burn ~$250,000 of capital to help a kid “get started” => 529 accounts and parental support. Even more if you roll private from Kindergarten.
What’s the 30-year cost of this choice?
$250,000 * (1.05)^30 = $1,080,000
Million bucks gone, you never see it.
- You burned the capital
- The kid figures life out by 30, and spends most of their 20s pissed at you (for tapering their support) 😉
$2 million opportunity cost, spread between two generations.
You assume it was what you were supposed to do and are grateful you finally got them off the payroll.
A possible alternative…
Our default position is in-state education and I’ll buy whatever’s left of your 529, at $2 on the dollar, once you save $100,000 of your own money.
What do we want to have happen?
- conserve family capital
- use debt sparingly
- build a habit of saving
Everyone pays their own way.