With regard to this mania, allow me to hijack your mind for a minute and ask you something non-financial but incredibly useful:
Who is your kid?
College isn’t like high school. It’s a very different educational beast. One that necessitates autonomy, focus, and—particularly for those students living away from home—discipline. How’s your child on those scales?
Few parents have the ability anymore to finance the luxury of a right-of-passage (beer pong!) or a go-yonder-and-grow-up. And even fewer kids are connected, driven tech-geniuses who can forgo college completely and head right into a start-up.
Our kids are each as different as they come. No advice or type of school is one-size-fits-all, though too much of the college hoopla is framed that way. But having an honest conversation about what is the right fit particularly for your progeny can mean the difference between ending up with a private college dropout living in your basement with $50,000 in debt or, in the same amount of time, a radiology tech grad from a local school with no debt, a full-time job, long career prospects, and your basement empty of humans.
Before you write any more checks, make sure you know who you’re investing in, strengths, foibles and all. A good future for your child, and a great investment for you, will be a college plan and life that fits him or her (specifically) best. Tailor accordingly.