College Savings Can Make a Big Difference on Student Loan Debt

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By Brian O'Connell

October 14, 2019

What the press and the public don’t talk about – but should – is the game-changing impact savings-minded parents have on their children’s student loan debt load. Every dollar they save for college is a dollar less their children will have to borrow.

Take Jessi Beyer, a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, who graduated with about $5,500 in student loan debt because of her parent’s disciplined savings habits.

“My parents and my mom’s father did a great job of saving for college, with my parents and grandfather covered the vast majority of the tab,” Beyers says. “I also saved as much as I could while in high school and worked throughout college. I had, if I remember correctly, about $7,500 saved up to contribute to my college.”

Beyer says that she also applied for hundreds of scholarships, and while she only obtained a few, the effort helped her parents feel more comfortable paying more because they knew she was serious about going to college. “I honestly didn’t need to take out any loans because of how well my family saved,” she says. “But my father wanted me to so I had some ‘skin in the game’ in his words.”

With her parents taking on the lion’s share of the college savings burden, Beyer says she was free to focus on academics and personal and professional development while on campus. “I didn’t have to stress about finances, which made my college experience significantly better,” she notes.

Now that Beyer started her own company (she’s a speaker and a personal development coach) and she’s out in the working world, Beyer only has a college loan bill of $60 per month. “It has removed a lot of financial stress post-graduation,” she adds. No doubt, it would be a lot harder to manage my finances now if I had a significant loan repayment.”

Zero Debt

She’s not alone. Some college graduates received so much financial help from their parents they left school with no student loan debt.

“My parents saved for my college from the time I was born because education is important to them, so they were able to cover the costs,” says Stacy Caprio, a Boston College graduate who is now a professional marketing manager in the Boston area.

Caprio graduated with no student loan debt, thanks to her parents’ efficient college savings campaign. “Graduating debt-free means a lot to me,” she says. “I see a lot of my friends and peers stressing about student loan debt to this day and I realize how lucky and blessed I am to have had a fresh start with no debt out of college all thanks to my parent’s generosity and thoughtful planning.”

Having zero student loan debt has also meant Caprio can focus on her professional career without student loan-related financial stress.

“I don’t worry about debt payments and focus instead on building my own side hustles, investing money and going after my dreams without the hindrance of college debt,” she says.

Parents Ask Their Kids to Pitch In

“Growing up and having odd jobs such as mowing yards, shoveling snow, delivering newspapers and refereeing sports since about age nine, my parents always took half of my paychecks, and set it aside for college,” says Matt Schmidt,   But Schmidt’s parents had a plan that would make his college experience even better.

“Growing up and into high school, I was always under the impression that any shortfall in tuition would be taken out thru loans,” he says. “What they didn’t tell me thru the years that were secretly matching me dollar for dollar.”

Schmidt, who graduated in 2004 and is now an insurance agent, says that because of his parents forcing him to save, he now has “very minimal” student loan payments. “The work ethic my parents instilled in me will be passed down to my children as they age,” he says. “Every little bit adds up over time, and this is one financial lesson I’m happy my parents taught me.”

Most college graduates aren’t so lucky, with 45.1 million borrowers facing student loan debt as of the first quarter of 2019. The average student loan debt at graduation for a Bachelor’s degree is just under $30,000.

But with mom and dad pitching in, there are plenty of relieved college grads who escape that debt, and are now free to pursue their professional passions without a big student loan bill looming over their heads every month.

A good place to start:

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