Ep 16: Getting College Paid For
Jeannie Burlowski, author of LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and into Jobs They Love Afterward, reveals some incredible tricks for helping your teen get an early jumpstart on a college education that is completely paid for by the time they graduate.
Full Show Notes
With the soaring cost of a university education these days, many parents wonder how they can get their teens free college tuition at a top school.
To get answers, I sat down with academic strategist Jeannie Burlowski. This lady is like the Einstein of college finances.
Her day job (the one she works when she’s not writing books and speaking at conferences) is literally coaching college students to set extraordinarily high goals for themselves, and then strategizing to help them figure out the fastest, least expensive way to get to those goals.
If your college student daughter wants to go to Johns Hopkins for med school and get a PhD at the same time, for example, your family might hire Jeannie to figure out all the steps to make that happen—with an emphasis on getting it all done as inexpensively as possible. Most often without scholarships.
Because inexpensive is one of Jeannie’s primary focuses, she’s written a book specifically for parents of kids and teens who’ll one day be going to college: LAUNCH: How to get Your Kids Through College Debt Free and into Jobs They Love Afterward.
LAUNCH has become one of the most well-respected books on this subject (it’s the go-to reference book for financial planners and college consultants) because Jeannie isn’t just about doing college cheap, she’s about doing it debt-free and so effectively that it results in a great, satisfying career after college is over.
So, when it comes to landing a free college diploma for your teen, she kiiiiinda knows what she’s talking about.
Avoiding Undergraduate Student Loans
In her grad school and medical school consulting practice, Jeannie’s seen students who graduated from four years of college with over $180,000 in student loans. This kind of debt is crippling.
Her advice to parents is clear: DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN to help your kid avoid taking out undergraduate student loans. No matter your income level, if you strategize well enough early on, you can get your teen through four years of undergrad without borrowing a dime.
During her 23 years working as an academic strategist, she’s developed some extremely creative strategies to bring the cost of REAL, high quality, high value college down, down, down, down…down to such a bargain basement level that even ordinary families can have it 100% paid for by two – four years after the kid graduates from high school.
So What’s the Secret to Free College Tuition?
Well, Jeannie says you need to be very careful here because the idea is to get your teen a GOOD education that leads to a real job after college. Landing your teen free college doesn’t do any good if the education he or she receives is sub-par.
So she suggests that your goal should be to get your teen a debt-free college education, not necessarily 100% free college tuition.
Um…what’s the difference?
Jeannie explained it to me like this:
“Everything you purchase that has high quality and high value has a cost. When you purchase something that can literally change a family’s life for generations, it’s going to have a significant cost. That just makes sense. But if you take a number of very strategic steps early on, you can completely sidestep paying the sticker price for college—even if your family makes too much to qualify for financial aid and your kid’s not getting any scholarships.”
I was surprised to hear that there are tax breaks for parents of college students that can save them thousands. Who tells parents about this? Savvy parents are finding out about them in Jeannie’s book.
In this episode
Jeannie reveals a few of the trade secrets she has uncovered over the past 2+ decades. This is not hard stuff to apply and the benefits are astronomical.
For example, teens often hear this about AP classes: “If you do well on the test at the end of an AP class, you’ll get college credit for that subject!”Really?
Is that statement really true? In reality, less than half of teens who take an AP test are actually awarded the promised college credit. Jeannie says that there’s a far more effective way to earn college credit in high school, and she covers it on pages 91-96 of her book.
Debt-Free College Education
Of course, one key to getting some free college tuition money is to land merit aid awards from colleges and universities. Merit aid is free college money that does not ever need to be paid back, and your child can be eligible for it even if you have a million dollars in the bank.
The problem is—many parents assume that students have to be geniuses with perfect GPAs and test scores in order to get merit aid. “Not so,” Jeannie says. “The key to getting merit aid is to get your teen started early (in middle school and high school) focusing in on fewer activities than most students do, in greater depth than most students ever have time for.”
Commitment and depth to fewer activities can impress admissions offices into offering these students loads of free money later.
What kinds of activities are we talking about here?
It’s all covered in this episode.
The 22-minute public version is free to listen to, and the 41-minute extended version, packed with extra goodies, is reserved for site members. Log in or sign up to access everything our site has to offer!
Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen
1. How to help your teen start networking and building business relationships
“Let’s sit down together and make a list. Who are all your friends’ parents? Who are the adults in your life that know you and like you? This is is the bus driver who drives you to your youth retreats. This is your baseball coach. It’s your football coach. It’s your friends mother. It’s any adult in your life who is a caring presence to you. And your friends’ parents is a great place to start looking. Also, what about any of my and your mothers’ friends?”
2. Help your teen find a cause to be passionate about:
3. How to get your teen to start thinking about the future and investing money:
4. When your teen’s (already lavish) allowance is not enough to cover all their expenses, say:
5. What to say when your teen asks you for money for something important (like prom):
6. When your teen gets a report card, here’s how you can start with empathy:
7. How to start a talk about topics you have never discussed before:
Jeannie recommended coming together as a family to decide on a humanitarian cause that you all care about. Complete the following exercise as a family. Take ideas for causes from everyone in the family and write them on index cards and stick them on the wall. Then spend some time discussing all of the ideas. Now give each family member three of those circular colored dot stickers. You can all silently spend a few minutes voting by sticking dots near the ideas you like best. If you love one in particular, you can stick two or even all three of your dots there. Feel free to vote for your own ideas. When voting is over, take the one or two items with the most dots and select them as your family cause or causes. Write a brief mission statement together about your new cause. Decide on small actions you can all take this week. (Members Only)
Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview
1. Developing a Family Sense of Purpose:
2. Calculate a Budget for Your Teen to Avoid all Arguments About Money:
Jeannie recommended coming together as a family to decide on a humanitarian cause that you all care about. Complete the following exercise as a family. Take ideas for causes from everyone in the family and write them on index cards and stick them on the wall. Then spend some time discussing all of the ideas. Now give each family member three of those circular colored dot stickers. You can all silently spend a few minutes voting by sticking dots near the ideas you like best. If you love one in particular, you can stick two or even all three of your dots there. Feel free to vote for your own ideas. When voting is over, take the one or two items with the most dots and select them as your family cause or causes. Write a brief mission statement together about your new cause. Decide on small actions you can all take this week.
About Jeannie Burlowski
Jeannie is a full time author, academic strategist, and speaker. She is the author of LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College and Into Jobs They Love Afterward, a 344-page book that clearly lays out the easy-to-follow steps parents need to know about when working toward their most important life goals for their teens. Jeannie’s work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report.
Jeannie also helps students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can find her online at JeannieBurlowski.com and follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.