Conversation Starters

Talking about college affordability can sometimes be a bit awkward. These questions may help break the ice and get the discussion started.

  • Whose responsibility is it to pay for school? The student, the parent(s) or both?
  • When the child is legally an adult (age 18) and is no longer claimed as an exemption on his or her parent’s federal income tax returns, shouldn’t he or she be responsible for paying for his or her own college education?
  • Is a stepparent responsible for completing financial aid application forms like the FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE? What about helping the stepchild pay for school?
  • Which is better for the student, to live at home or on campus?
  • Is it better to attend a public college or a private or an Ivy League school?
  • Should the student enroll in the same college as his or her best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend?
  • Can the student win a completely free ride through scholarships?
  • (Myth) Do billions of dollars in scholarship go unclaimed each year?
  • Are public colleges always less expensive than private colleges?
  • Is it possible for the student to work his or her way through college and graduate with no debt?
  • How much money can the student earn before it affects eligibility for need-based financial aid?
  • What is the most important factor to consider in selecting a college or university?
  • To how many colleges should the student apply for admission?
  • What type of college is best for a student who is unsure what he or she wants to study?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year?
  • Is it better to attend a community college for a couple of years (to save money) and then transfer to a four-year college?
  • Does the student have a better chance of being accepted if he or she applies early decision or early action instead of regular decision? How will this affect the financial aid offer?
  • Will applying for financial aid affect the student’s chances of being admitted?
  • Is it better for the parents to save money for their retirement or for their children’s college educations?
  • Is it possible for the student to borrow the full cost of a college education each year, so that the parents do not need to borrow for or contribute to the student’s college expenses?
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