No, I’m not talking about those seniors aged sixty-five or over. Although without a proper health care or long-term care plan that could be expensive too. I’m talking about high school seniors, which our family happens to have two of. My seventeen-year-old twin son and daughter’s high school days are numbers. We are certainly on the back nine of their high school careers, with roughly sixteen weeks to go, but still have many major decisions, and costs ahead of us.
I’m glad to see that Senioritis hasn’t set in quite yet, but with springtime and longer days closing in we will do our best to the kids focused over the remaining weeks of the high school careers. It’s something I’ve always preached to them over the years, sure it might sound a bit cliché, or maybe even like the old coach, but I’ve reminded them about giving their best effort, and finishing strong. You just never know who’s watching.
Then there’s still plenty of local scholarship money up for grabs too. I’d hate for the last leg of a long well run race to cost them the opportunity at free money. So, with simple screaming and yelling reminders I hope to get my message across and reminder them just how expensive their senior year is.
Senior Year Costs
Admittedly some of these costs are by choice, and clearly fall in the wants category and not needs. So, it’s not a list of money we are spending and complain, but just to give you an idea of the extra ordinary costs we are incurring this year with have two seniors.
Senior Photos – $150 X two – The classic cap and gown photo, taken last summer. It’s a great keep sake, something we have shared with grandparents, (part of their Christmas gift) and family.
Senior Trip – $200 x two – A three-day get away with their friends skiing, snowboard, tubing, etc.
Yearbook – $115.75 x two – Both my wife and I still have our high school yearbooks almost thirty years later.
Cap and Gown $33 x two – no way around this one. We’d like them to attend the graduation ceremony.
Prom – $Unknown – They both have plans to attend. My daughter has her date lined up, but just can’t anticipate full cost yet. Dress shopping is scheduled shortly.
Graduation Party – $Unknown – We are planning a backyard party for them. We are in the early planning stages. What I can is I have some work cut out for me in terms of yard work. Every year coming out of the winter there is always plenty to do. It might not cost me money, just my time.
College – $ 10,000 X 2 – This is still an estimate per semester as my son has not made a final decision on a college. That’s not including travel or moving in costs.
So, that’s a grand total of $20,997.5 and counting. Ouch. All costs that we didn’t have last year. Considering that tuition cost will continue for the next four years and we will have the potential to add a third tuition in the twin’s senior year we got some belt-tightening to do.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
The $1000 to $1500 in expenses are onetime costs that can be cash flowed, the $20K in tuition costs is something altogether different. We will really need a plan to tackle this expense to remain debt free and avoid dipping into loans to cover the expense. Here’s what we’ve laid out so far.
Talking to the College – We have already begun to talk to the school to make them aware of our situation. They we will have twins in school and possible a third child attending at the same time. It doesn’t hurt to ask. The goal is to see if any additional help is available above the financial aid and scholarships.
AP / College credits – Even in their senior year, the twins are taking several AP and college level classes. This has a potential to transfer and earn them college credit. It also knocks our prerequisites classes and allows them to focus on their major. Not to mention the cost savings.
Scholarships / Grants – They have already begun the process of applying. Local scholarships are due this week. They will continue to apply during their entire college careers.
Four years – We do not want any long-term college student. Four years is the maximum for a bachelor degree. Extending their stay will cost more money and delays pursuing a career.
Working – Whether it’s during the school year or over summer breaks we expect that our children will work and save money to help pay for things.
Living Below our Mean – We did this for a stretch of 50 months once. Averaging a $2000 per month debt repayment. That’s $24K a year. That comes with some sacrifice, like minimum travel, but it will be worth it in the end.
That’s our plan right now. Enjoy the remaining time our twins have in high school and continue to guide them into college. Helping them make the best money decision possible, and hope they make the best out of their college experience.
Is there any senior year cost that surprise you? How would you tackle cash flowing college?
Brian is a dad, husband, and an IT professional by trade. A Personal Finance Blogger since 2013 who, with his family, has successfully paid off over $100K worth of consumer debt. I want my three children to handle money better than I ever did at a young age. I have been teaching them as much as I can for the last 10 years. My goal is to continue to champion the financial literacy message and then why I created the “How To Rock Your Money” book. To help teenagers navigate their financial futures. I hope my family’s story of paying off over $100,000 worth of debt will inspire and motivate you to take control of your money. He blogs at BrianBrandow.com