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College Hacking: The Comprehensive Guide | Stereo Live Q&A | EP 309

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.

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What You’ll Get Out Of Today’s Show

  • Winter is over, spring is here, and Brad and Jonathan have hosted their fifth live event on Stereo!
  • With the new season and sense of hope, people are beginning to think more about traveling and travel rewards points. Start thinking about a trip you want to take and join us on Stereo next week for a live group travel rewards coaching call with Brad.
  • The focus of this episode is college. How can you do college for less or do you even need to go to college at all? After more than 400 episodes, optimization tactics related to college have popped up frequently. What has changed for 2021, what are the best practices, and what should you be thinking about?
  • In the FI community, we take a step back, see the world for what it truly is, and look at a problem a little bit differently. Society tells us that college is on the path to success, but knowing what we know now, there may be another way or a way to improve the ROI of going to college.
  • Back a generation or so ago, it wasn’t uncommon for a college student to be the first in their family to attend college. College was seen as a way to make it into the middle class. It may have been true then, can still be true in some ways today, but the difference is the cost of college has risen dramatically while the earning potential did not rise at the same rate.
  • We have to be looking at college through the lens of ROI and understand what we are trying to get out of it. College signals that you can follow the rules, but an undergraduate degree doesn’t necessarily mean you have skills or mastery over something and it’s skills that matter today.
  • No one can afford to go to college for one hundred thousand dollars and come out earning $50,000. It will create financial chaos for a decade or more of your life.
  • Most people’s incentives to go to college fall into one or more of these three areas: wanting to have the college experience, access to higher-income jobs, or a love of learning.
  • The college experience was not high on Jonathan’s list of priorities, nor was attending a prestigious university, so he did two years of community college before transferring to Virginia Tech.
  • Brad’s goal for college was to get a job upon graduation. Though he was accepted to Ivy League schools, he chose not to go to them as they were too expensive and opted for the University of Richmond instead.
  • If having the college experience or getting into the right school are top priorities for you, listen to ChooseFI episodes 114 and 154 to learn more about how to discount the cost of college using test scores and the FAFSA.
  • In episode 083, Cody Berman talked about how he approached applying for scholarships as if it was a part-time job and thought about it systematically.
  • Rob, from The Simple StartUp, called in to say that his parents used geo-arbitrage and moved back to Ireland so that Rob and his siblings could go to college for much less. For graduate school, Rob coached women’s soccer in a graduate assistantship so that he was able to get his Master’s for free and earn a stipend.
  • In episode 138, Anthony Gary discussed how he hacking his college room and board costs by becoming a Resident Assistant. Other past guests have talked about utilizing niche scholarships, like ones for golf caddies.
  • One listener left a voicemail asking how to incentivized kids to apply for scholarships. Jonathan would like to try and gamify it for the kids and Brad believes that there are a lot of merit scholarships available if which college your child attends isn’t concerned with attending the most prestigious schools. He and Laura have made it clear with their daughters that they don’t care about prestige when it comes to college.
  • Choosing where to go to college may mean saddling yourself with student loan debt for decades. We are having 17-year-olds make these decisions that can negatively affect their lives for decades without thought or counsel.
  • Jonathan suggests slowing down and providing kids with a better option.
  • In 202, the average cost of college was $110-120,000 and the average annual income for a graduate was $50,000. It’s a lot of debt for a young adult to get out from under. A little bit of optimization can make it so much easier.
  • If looking to improve test scores, considering investing and paying the fee for test preparation services from companies like Edison Prep.
  • Chase called in to talk about the ROI of college in the military. He is in the National guard and gets reimbursed from both the military and his employer for going to school.
  • When you chose to put the time in to serve our country, it’s possible to optimize the compensation package and never have to work again. Options to pay for college and serve include ROTC and the US military service academies.
  • Marjorie called in about geo-arbitraging college. She attended college in Puerto Rico for a fraction of the cost in the US mainland.
  • Many states have a guaranteed admissions program where you can attend community college for two years and then are guaranteed acceptance to a four-year-school, saving two years of higher-priced tuition, but make sure you know what credits will transfer over to the university.
  • How can you test out a college? In addition to getting college credit for AP courses, dual enrollment while in high school can be an option.
  • CLEP testing is a little-known secret as discussed in episode 238 with Millionaire Educator.
  • Another listener called in to mention Scholarship For Service, where you can get tuition and fees paid along with a $25,000 academic stipend with a requirement to later work for a federal agency. This program is similar to the Department of Defense Smart scholarship mentioned by Sunny Burns in episode 139.
  • If your desire to go to college is for the love of learning, do you really need to go to college? Jonathan says that they have proven there is a replicable path to earning six figures a year without going to college.
  • The son of ChooseFI’s CEO, Edmund Tee, is earning his associate’s degree while in high school thanks to dual enrollment then plans on taking a gap year to pursue Salesforce through Talent Stacker.

Resources Mentioned In Today’s Conversation

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.
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