• Trimming the Average Budget: Education

    This is part of an ongoing series about how to trim the budget of the average American. As this series focuses on such broad-based tips, some will work for you and some will not. You’re invited to mention in the comments the tips that you found to be the most useful for inclusion in a …

  • It’s Not the School, It’s the Student

    Yesterday, I read a fascinating research paper by Stacy Berg Dale and Alan Krueger (you can read the abstract here) which offers up a surprising result. In a nutshell, once you take a student’s pre-existing talents into account (as shown by standardized test scores), the school they attend has almost no impact on their lifetime …

  • “Eighteen and Out” – Good Parenting or Bad Parenting?

    A young reader writes in: I’m a high school senior and I’m going to college next fall. When I go to college, I want to be completely independent, paying my own bills. My parents insist that this is financial suicide and that they should support me through college. What do you think is the right …

  • Dorm Room Clutter: What Do You Actually Need for College

    A few days ago, I stumbled across a handful of pictures from my college dorm room (I considered posting them, but there are several people depicted and I don’t post pictures of people without asking them permission and I’m not sure how to contact them). As I looked them over (and enjoyed some memories), I …

  • The Total Money Makeover: College Funding

    This is the ninth of twelve parts of a “book club” reading and discussion of Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, where this book on debt reduction is teased apart and looked at in detail. This entry covers the tenth chapter, finishing on page 182. The next entry, covering the eleventh chapter, will appear on …

  • Review: The New Global Student

    Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal development, personal productivity, or other book of interest. The New Global Student by Maya Frost is one of those books that takes what you think you know about a subject and flips it on its ear. This time around, it’s the standard route that most high …

  • The Power of Transferrable Skills – And Six Areas to Work On

    When I was in college, the vast majority of my classes were effectively training for a career in research and scientific data management. Seven years after graduation, though, I find myself drawing instead on the transferrable skills I picked up in other classes: public speaking, writing, leadership, information management, and so on. To put it …

  • Making Financial Literacy Compelling to a Wide Audience

    A reader that I’ll call “Maggie” writes in with an interesting question: I manage a federal TRiO grant at a community college in Arkansas. If our funding proposal is approved again next year, we are required to include programs on financial literacy, as required by the new Higher Ed Authorization Act. We currently offer a …

  • A Graduation Gift That Matters

    When I graduated from high school – and again when I graduated from college – I received quite a few gifts from friends and family members. Most of them fell into two categories: money inserted into graduation cards, or items intended to help with my life in the near future (like a gas card or …

  • Personal Finance 101: What Is a 529?

    Fairly regularly on The Simple Dollar, I mention that I’m investing in 529 college savings plans for my two children. Each month, I automatically contribute $100 to each of their plans – and I’ve considered contributing more than that. But what’s a 529? Erin writes in with a typical query: You write all the time …

  • Starting Your Career Right: Finding a Great Mentor in College

    When I first went to college, I was lost. I had grown up in a tiny town where virtually everyone around me had started factory jobs straight out of high school. I literally knew no one (other than my teachers) who had attended college at any level. I more or less guessed at a major …

  • Saving for College or Saving for Retirement: What’s Best for Us?

    This past weekend, my wife and I were watching Clark Howard’s show on Headline News. During the program, Clark stated a canard that I’ve heard several times from personal finance “gurus” over the past couple years: instead of saving for a child’s college education, parents are better off saving for their own retirement. Clark’s main …

  • Seven Huge Financial Mistakes I Made During My College Career

    Over the last few weeks, I have been reflecting on how many members of my rather close extended family are either near high school graduation or are in college right now. They have so many great opportunities ahead of them in the next few years – and so many chances to botch things, too. Stephen, …

  • New Year’s Resolution Workshop #4: Protect My Family’s Future

    Between Christmas and New Year’s, we’re taking a look at five common New Year’s resolutions that people often adopt for their finances, evaluate some of the traps that people fall into with regards to that resolution, and come up with some real actions that can turn a challenging New Year’s resolution into a success. We …

  • Charting a Course to Go Back to College

    Amanda writes: After taking a serious re-evaluation of my life over the last year, I finally realized what I should be doing with it. I want to be a nurse. I attended college several years ago, but I majored in English Lit and didn’t finish my degree. How can I plan for this financially? Going …

  • What Do You Need to Save For Your Child’s College Education?

    One question I often get from new and expectant parents is how much they should be saving each month for their child’s college education. Obviously, if you’re looking at paying for college eighteen years down the road, there are going to be a lot of unknowns: how will college funding change by then? How much …

  • Is College Really Necessary For All High School Graduates?

    One of the biggest assumptions I read about in books and articles about financial planning for your children is the outright assumption that your child must attend a college or university of some sort after graduating from high school, so you’d better financially plan for it. To me, this assumption is one that needs to …

  • Discussion: What Should Be Part of a High School Consumer Education Curriculum?

    Over the last few months, I’ve become very interested in the teaching of consumer education in high schools, especially as it pertains to preparing high schoolers for the challenges that they’ll face in the real world: going to college, paying for college, buying a car, buying a house, dealing with debt, finding a good job, …

  • Is There an Overemphasis on College Savings When Discussing Children’s Education and Personal Finance?

    Almost every time I read an article about funding your child’s education, it turns into a discussion about saving for college. Coverdell plans, 529 plans, how to handle the FAFSA – all of this stuff is standard personal finance fare. But all of it overlooks the first eighteen years of your child’s life – the …