How the heck are we supposed to afford college?

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Our babysitter’s a high school senior. She’s considering some really nice colleges, none of them in state. Which got me thinking about college tuition, which granted is down the road a ways for my two little ones, but is looming nonetheless. Which got me thinking about our college savings plan, an elaborately devised program that consists of throwing the maximum allowance into our Roth IRAs once a year and then not thinking about it at all.

Which got me thinking: how are parents and students coping with college payments amid the financial freefall?

Turns out a majority of kids are selecting cheaper, less prestigious names, says a new study by MeritAid.com, a free Internet service that provides data on $11 billion in merit scholarships. And 16% are delaying college indefinitely. After all, 64% are “very concerned” that finding a job after college won’t be a cakewalk.

As for our college savings, most of which are invested in a total stock market index fund, I haven’t yet had the stomach to check the balance. I’m pretty sure there’s enough for at least a few semesters of vocational school. Which is a great place to study plumbing.

How are you guys coping?

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