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I sat down with my older son to figure out his college budget for completing undergraduate work in Florida. He will save money by having a bit of a hybrid college experience that combines commuting and eventually living in a dorm. He is starting off at Hillsborough Community College and will later transfer to the University of South Florida. Because my son received high scores on several advanced placement classes, he will have fewer classes to take, which means he will save time and money.
Sketching out his career plan
My son took time to sit down with a college counselor to figure out his best career path. An "undecided" major or an "exploratory program" is a luxury nowadays because of the high cost of college tuition. My son found out exactly which courses he needed to get into pharmacy school.
Figuring out where the money will come from
In addition to receiving scholarship money from the Bright Futures program in Florida, my son will depend on money he makes as a pizza delivery driver. He wanted a savings plan to prepare for each semester.
Cost of Community College
For academic year 2010/2011, the cost of tuition and fees was about $94.32 per credit hour. For 2011/2012, the cost per credit hour went up to $100.93. We don't yet know how much it will cost to attend Community College next year, but we should expect at least a $5 per credit hour increase each year.
First fall semester
My son spent started out with a light load of 13 credit hours for $1,312.09. Some of the money was returned through the Bright Futures Scholarship.
For spring semester, my son will take 16 credit hours, which should cost $1,614.88. As long as he keeps a solid G.P.A. he will receive a portion back.
We are estimating he will pay $1,211 for the summer session. As far as we know, the scholarship doesn't cover summer sessions so he will pay for that on his own to keep to his timeline.
Second fall semester
To save money, my son is spending one last semester at Community College. We can only estimate what the cost will be next year, but we estimate it will cost him about $1,700.
Transferring to USF for second spring semester
The cost of attending the University of South Florida as an in-state resident was $191.06 per credit hour in 2011/2012. We are estimating the cost will be a bit higher in a year and a half. My son has to attend USF for at least one semester to complete requirements for a four year graduate program. We estimate the cost to be $3,216, not including lab fees.
To live in a dormitory that semester, it will cost an additional $5,000 for the housing and meals. In addition to tuition, my son has to put aside at least $500 each semester for books. By figuring out the exact classes required to get into a graduate program, my son can zero in on what he needs to spend money on. For undergraduate, we figure it will cost him a total of about $16,500 without figuring in his scholarship. His hybrid college experience will include one semester living in a dorm.
Compare that to the $160,000 it would cost me today if I repeated my four years living in a dormitory at a private university and I'd say it's a steal of a deal. His next move is to plan and save for the pharmacy program, which will cost more than $60,000 for four years.