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What do you mean, you’re going away to school?!

education savings financial planning money management Jan 09, 2024
Young girl wearing a graduate cap

If you’ve got kids in high school, you might have had the following conversation around the dinner table, or on the drive to hockey practice:

Your kiddo: “The (really far away) University of  XYZ was at my school today and I think I might want to go there when I graduate.”

You: A few moments of stunned silence … “Wait, what?” 

As he/she starts to excitedly tell you about the programs and the campus, you can’t believe that your sweet, chubby cheeked “baby” is talking about what they’re going to do after graduation. 

You put your fork down, your eyes start to tear up a bit.

First thought: They’re going to graduate in the next few years.

Second mind blowing realization: Wait, they’re going to move away from home?!

Check-in with yourself

It is tough to do, but be honest with yourself - this day was coming one way or another. You have raised strong, smart, and independent kids - this is a GOOD thing.

Your reaction might be ‘jumping up and down at the thought of turning their bedroom into that gym you’ve been dreaming of’, or ‘sobbing at the thought of your baby leaving home.’

This is a big change for you too, Mom and Dad - give yourself permission to go through the gauntlet of emotions. You are in for a ride, whether you like it or not.

Things to think about

Regardless, it was (or will be) a shocking moment, so once you pick your jaw up off the floor, your thoughts likely turn to…

  • What does it cost to attend post-secondary school? Think tuition, books, transportation, room and board, and, and, and….
  • How will we manage the cost?
  • What schools can we realistically afford?
  • What schools can my kid realistically get into?
  • Will they stay local, or move away?
  • Will they live on-campus (“rez”), rent an apartment, or will we buy a place nearby?
  • What will we pay for? 
  • What will they pay for? 

The questions are near endless. But that doesn’t mean they’re not figure-out-able. 

A good financial planner (of which I am one) will help you answer these questions, both objectively with numbers, and subjectively with your emotions. I have two kids, they are in kindergarten and grade two, but I have had literally dozens of meetings with parents sending their kids to university over my past thirteen-ish years in this business.

If this is you, let's talk. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can even become exciting when you have a plan in place. Use your mental capacity to cherish every last hockey practice or family dinner, because the clock is ticking…

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