(Warning…reading this could save you and your college kids thousands of dollars and erase years of debt!)
For most of our married life, we were a one income family. That one income was mine as a youth pastor. So technically…it might not qualify for a “full time” income!
As our daughters were getting older…we were horrified with the thought of how we were going to financially help them through college. We were barely making ends meet for years. To give you an idea…my amazing wife fed our family on a grocery budget of $100…a month! I’m not making that up. It was a few years back and our kids were younger, but still, it was an amazing accomplishment.
So needless to say, we really couldn’t hardly save at all for their college. But, after years of thinking about it, I figured out a way to get them out of college with little or no debt and WITHOUT SAVING. Here’s HOW and WHY we did it.
WHY WE DID IT
WE WANTED A HIGHER EDUCATION THAT WORKED WITH OUR KIDS FAITH…NOT AGAINST IT
We’ve worked with literally thousands of families over the 30 years of our ministry. I can’t tell you how many parents we’ve counseled through the pain of seeing their students’ faith obliterated during their college years. Almost without exception, these were families who raised their kids with a strong Christian ethic and faith. But after a few semesters in a state university, it seemed as if their student completely lost their faith in Christ altogether.
So we began to notice this pattern and we decided if we could, we wanted to minimize this risk as much as possible by sending our students to a university with Christ-centered values. While we felt confident in how we raised our kids, we wanted to be wise with this decision. Seeing our families’ values attacked and paying an institution to do so wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.
So we informed our kids that we would financially help them if they chose a Christian college. We drew a line there and created incentive.
But we discovered something very interesting…the bottom-line costs between Christian colleges and most state schools are almost exactly the same. Don’t be fooled by the sticker price. We compared them for our own kids and found that with scholarships there were within hundreds of dollars of one another. In one case it was cheaper to go to a Christian college for one of our daughters.
HOW WE DID IT
I spent about 5 years asking hundreds of parents…”Did you pay for your kids college and if so how?” I heard all sorts of great answers from great families and parents. Some paid for all of it…some paid for none and everywhere in between. I asked a billionaire this question and he told me, “I didn’t pay much for any of our kids’ college. I made them work for it.” I definitely remembered this answer.
Taking all of this into account, we came up with a plan. Here’s how we did it.
We told our girls that WHILE THEY ARE IN COLLEGE, whatever they pay off year by year we would match against their debt dollar for dollar. This way we shared the responsibility of their school debt, without taking it on as parents. So in August of each year, we match what they have paid off for their college debt for that previous year.
We spent time showing them how this would change their life. We told them stories of people we know who spent decades paying an extra mortgage-sized payment toward their school debt. They listened as we explained to them that while they were in class around 35-40 hours a week in high school, but they were in class for only 12-15 hours a week in college…. plenty of extra time to work and make money! I told them how college students will tell you how “busy” they are, when in fact they are typically the least busy people I know.
Then they worked hard and began making money working while in college. Sometimes they took on extra work on top of their job(s) as they could. They hustled and were creative. And they still had a great social life too. As we saw this, it gave us as parents incentive to keep up with them with saving as well as extra work here and there when and where we could to keep up.
We were all filled with joy as year after year they saved and paid off their debt in big chunks.
Our oldest graduated with her bachelors and master’s degree last year. Our second daughter graduates this spring with her bachelors. While they are not completely debt free, they were close. Both should be able to pay off their college debt easily within 12-18 months after graduation. (We wanted to do it debt free but we were close!)
In our current culture wars, there’s an open agenda in many universities to destroy the faith of our kids. I’m not being overdramatic here, it’s true.
Ask yourself, how will you prepare your kids you raised with faith in Christ to be prepared for life after high school, and specifically on a university campus. Going to a Christian university won’t guarantee anything, but it certainly is much less riskier than other options.
But if you are considering a Christian college or university, don’t let finances intimidate you. The sticker price for many private faith-based colleges is around $35,000. Some people hear that and say, “I can’t afford $140,000 in school debt!”
The good news is that no one pays this amount. In our particular situation (and in most families I know) the actual cost for on campus room and board and classes was less than 50% of this cost.
Some Christian financial experts warn against Christian colleges because of the cost. I understand the intention, but it isn’t always what it seems when you factor in scholarships and other ways to get creative. And above that, I wanted our daughters to be in a place that encouraged their Christian faith, and it’s hard to put a price tag on that.
So that’s how we did it. Hope that helps!!! Feel free to forward this on to parents you know that it might help.
Jeff & Arianna Eckart, Founders of Never The Same
© 2021, Never The Same