Commentary: A Dad Faces A College Savings Gap

"College is not something I want to provide gift-wrapped for my kids. I want them to work at real jobs in high school and college. I think leaving college with debt is a good incentive to get a job. It was for me. But debt can also be soul-crushing," Joe Heim writes in The Washington Post. "The average debt for students who have borrowed for college is between $24,000 and $30,000, according to the College Board. Which may be manageable if you are a nurse or an engineer or a programming whiz, and jobs are waiting, but not if you are, heaven forfend, an English major. Somewhere there’s a sane financial path for helping your kids with college. But how many dollar bills do you need to wrap around your child’s cocoon to feel you’ve done enough? How do you make the present comfortable and enriching for them without jeopardizing their future? The growing unease that ordinary Americans feel about paying for their children’s college is not going unnoticed, says Megan McClean, director of policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Students and families are becoming more vocal with their concerns. Next year, Congress is scheduled to take up the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and, McClean says, 'college affordability will likely play a very big part of that.' I hope she’s right and that legislators embrace their responsibility to help make college more financially attainable. If there’s one institution I still have faith in, it’s Congress. For now, my best financial plan still feels like Powerball. And even I’m smart enough to know that can’t be a good thing."

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