The only way you can ever repayyour parents is to lead the bestlife possible. And the corollaryhomage to them is to raise your ownchildren and educate them as well as,or better than, your experience. In mycase, I have only a limited sense ofhow my middle-class family ever managedto send my brother and I throughmedical school and my sister throughlaw school.
True, I worked some of the hardestsummer jobs imaginable every year,and I assumed some small debt out offilial obligation, I suppose. But lookingback, even at 1960's prices, I'm somewhatat a loss to explain the specificsof my parents' sacrifice.
We know from survey after surveythat paying for college is high onevery parent's wish list, along withowning a home and financing a comfortableretirement. When my timecame, I figured that we would havesome money saved, pull in our beltsvis-à-vis discretionary expenses, and,if necessary, take out a second loan onour inflating house.
Planning ahead is difficult becauseyou probably don't know whetheryour kids will end up in a public orprivate school, where it will be, orhow far they will go in accumulatingdegrees. And, of course, there is thenecessary guesstimating about whatthe rates of return on savings will be,how much you can actually save, thedegree of inflation over how manyyears you have until college starts, andjust how high the greater-than-inflationtuitions will increase.
Out of Reach
Suffice it to say that except for a tinypercentage of wealthy families, youcan assume that educating your childrenwill be a bigger expense than youcan imagine. For instance, didn't wejust read that the average medicalgraduate going into practice has ahefty six-figure debt? Based on thatfact alone, I know a friend's son whodeclined his coveted acceptance tomedical school in lieu of a career inSilicon Valley.
Although it may seem hopeless toyoung doctors starting a family, or eventhose who seemingly suddenly have toface their teenagers' college expenses,there is really a lot you can do. Becausethe amounts involved have gotten solarge, being successful in financing aneducation takes more work and savvythan in the past. And is here to help whetheryou are just getting started or arealready immersed in grappling with thismoney pit. We physicians know howimportant and valuable higher educationis; you wouldn't be reading this ifyou and your family hadn't tackledthese same issues years ago.