You have finally found your dream house. You ask the realtor, "What is the price?" The realtor replies, "This owner is a highly reputable person and is absolutely thrilled that you like the house. Since you have some savings and are also eligible for a ‘first time home owner credit' from the government, the owner promises you can get a mortgage for an amount of money at an interest rate that meets your needs. Sign here and we’ll work out all of the details later." Would you do it?
As families contemplate where to apply to college and the price of college, this is just the kind of choice they make. Families navigate a series of complicated financial decisions about how to save and pay for college, beginning early in a child's life and lasting years beyond graduation—often a 40-year effort in money management. The choices families make can significantly change the price they will pay for college as well as the value of their purchase. Yet, families often make these decisions with incomplete or late information, which can result in serious consequences.