I. INTRODUCTION This is a new page to this site, and it's under construction, but let me tell you why I'm writing it and where I'm going with it. I frequently meet people who refuse to believe that the American college generosity system even exists, or that its results can be as wonderful for middle and lower income families as they really are. So, I've come up with a way to use the lives of four living Americans, men whose backgrounds are well known, to make my point. I'm going to analyze the college costs and available financial aid for our last four presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. American presidents historically attend superb colleges, which was definitely true of these four presidents, and none of them attended the same schools. You might guess, as I did, that their years of graduation were spread around over a number of years, but we would have all been wrong, since three of these four presidents graduated exactly fifty years ago, in the spring of 1968. However, we're not going to let their actual graduation dates bother us, because my point will concern the costs of their educations. And, for example, I don't know and you don't care what Bill Clinton was looking at for his college costs and aid at Georgetown for the 1964/1965 academic year. But I can make a very accurate estimate of his costs and aid at Georgetown this year. So, I'm going to make my point by having a little bit of fun with the facts. Specifically, I'm going to move the clock forward a lot of years and assume that each of these former presidents just graduated from high school in June of 2018. Then, by using the Net Price Calculator programs at each of the schools where they ultimately graduated, and by making some fair assumptions concerning the incomes and assets of each of their families, I can make a 97% accurate prediction of their net costs and aid for Fall Semester 2018 at the four colleges. My point will be to give middle and lower income American families hope. Because, by studying the example of these four former presidents, especially the two presidents who needed significant financial aid to complete their educations, they will learn the most significant lesson this website teaches: Hope is true, and despair is false. But, before I accomplish that worthy goal, I'm going to take time out for a good, solid, five-minute whine.
II. FOUR GRIPES This website is all about good news. It's all about helping the best dreams of your kids - and the best dreams you have for their educations - come true. But my efforts have run into problems with four American institutions, and I want to spend five minutes of your time whining about it. Then it's back to the good news. I promise. This site is now beginning its sixth year. When I started, my goal was to help the best dreams of one kid and one family come true, and then to do it again. Well, this site is now used by thousands of American families every year, and that's really gratifying for me, but had no idea in 2013 that its message would still be relevant today. My technique, you see, is based on making smart use of one freely-available online resource that everyone should already know about. That resource began to be available in 2008, it was fully available in 2011 when I started getting serious about my son's college search, and it still is. But that resource was unknown back then, it was unknown when I first published this site in 2013, and it's still unknown five years later. Even now in 2018, I have still never met a parent or student who has heard the phrase "Net Price Calculator" before meeting me. Why? The reason is that four key American institutions have failed American parents and students. Effective use of net price calculator programs can easily reduce student and parent loans by one half, but... A. Our schools, and specifically our high school guidance counselors, have completely dropped the ball on this. NPCs required counselors to learn a new skill, to fit their thinking into a new paradigm, to learn that what they used to take for granted may be the opposite of what is true today. But wherever I travel in America, when I offer free NPC training sessions for local counselors, I never get either a call back or a response to my e-mails. Never. B. NPC's are good news, and reducing college loans by at least fifty percent for our parents and students is really good news, but our media - whether mainstream or alternative - are not in the good news business. After trying hard for five years, I haven't found one media outlet willing to carry this story. Not one. C. Colleges and universities - the less generous ones and even the most generous ones - are also to blame. The less generous ones try to hustle students and families into destructive, high loan, financial aid programs. And the most generous schools don't communicate the extent of their generosity to you, the people with the need to know. By the way, I think that's one reason why top schools were slammed in the recent revisions of our tax code. D. After passing the law requiring NPCs, which was a brilliant move, our politicians have also failed us. Of course, the last thing a politician wants to tell us is, "We really solved the problem of excess college costs and loans for you ten years ago - in the last year of the Bush presidency - but we kept it secret." Instead, politicians tell us the usual two-faced nonsense. As an example, Barack Obama was a smart kid from a low-income family, so he went to great schools for very little money. He did his first two years at Occidental for not much and his last two years at Columbia almost for free, but he didn't tell us that. Instead, he wanted our community colleges to be free for our kids. Occidental and Columbia for him, but community college for our kids. Thanks, Mr. President. Okay, enough of this whining from me. It's time for me to give your kid a chance to be president someday too.
III. BACKGROUND All of our last four Presidents of the United States attended and graduated from top-quality American colleges and universities. Each of the schools where they graduated offers exclusively need-based aid - and no merit-based aid - meaning they assume all their accepted applicants to be equally "meritorious", and the amount of any financial aid is based solely on the financial need of the individual student's family. The families of two of these former presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, were wealthy. They had no need, so those two families "paid sticker" - meaning they paid the published cost - at those colleges for their sons' educations. But, the families of the other two former presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, were not wealthy at all. The Clinton and Obama families weren't destitute, but they definitely needed significant assistance for their sons to attend top-quality American colleges. And their colleges came through back then as you will see that they do today.
IV. THE NUMBERS So, let's do the numbers. Remember that we moved the clock forward and that we are assuming that our four future presidents all graduated from high school in June of 2018. The table below shows what their families would pay for one year of their educations at the colleges where they ultimately graduated next year. As always, using our Apples-to-Apples system, the results look like a baseball scoreboard - with the name of the team on the left, the bottomline for Moms and Dads on the right, and the middle columns just showing how we got there.
Interestingly, the "sticker prices" at the four schools - shown in the Total Costs column - are pretty similar, but the bottomline amounts for Moms and Dads in the Remaining Balance column are very different indeed. There's about $60,000 in net separation between the two wealthy and the two lower income families, which is the result of more than $60,000 in Total Grants - net cash assistance with no loans - awarded to the two future president from lower income families, just to make their educations affordable, and just to help their dreams come true. And this is not unusual at all. Check my Results and Archive pages for a lot more examples.
Copyright 2018, Mark Warns, All Rights Reserved
Here again are a Word version of my Apple-to-Apples template for your own college cost comparisons along with a Word version of my data input pages you can use for your own family: