The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘college’

Stacked Deck

I have a very young kiddo at home and this has led me to do some financial thinking and planning. For full disclosure, I was a fiscal conservative but am leaning more wacko liberal more and more due to the following I am about to explain.

I have a job that pays a good salary, and thankfully have never lived paycheck to paycheck. I am a college graduate and from a family where college was the expectation. Financial planning and forethought has always been a part of my life.

Let’s dive in.

Colorado, where I live, has public universities that would be fine options for a future potentially college bound child. We’ll look at Colorado State University’s (CSU) numbers (source).

Residents of Colorado pay an annual total price of $24,722 to attend Colorado State University Fort Collins on a full time basis. This fee is comprised of $8,716 for tuition,  $11,110 room and board, $1,200 for books and supplies and $2,336 for other fees.
Next up, let’s look at past tuition data in order to make an estimate about future tuition (source).

Year Out of State In State
2011 $23,652.00 $7,952.00
2012 $24,441.00 $8,649.00
2013 $25,166.00 $9,313.00
2014 $26,077.00 $9,897.00
2015 $27,267.00 $10,558.00
2016 $28,346.00 $11,052.00
2017 $29,372.00 $11,790.00
2018 $30,435.00 $12,578.00
2019 $31,537.00 $13,418.00
2020 $32,679.00 $14,314.00
2021 $33,862.00 $15,271.00
2022 $34,654.15 $15,608.22
2023 $35,689.93 $16,318.80
2024 $36,725.71 $17,029.38
2025 $37,761.49 $17,739.96
2026 $38,797.27 $18,450.55
2027 $39,833.05 $19,161.13
2028 $40,868.84 $19,871.71
2029 $41,904.62 $20,582.29
2030 $42,940.40 $21,292.87
2031 $43,976.18 $22,003.45
2032 $45,011.96 $22,714.04
2033 $46,047.75 $23,424.62
2034 $47,083.53 $24,135.20
2035 $48,119.31 $24,845.78
2036 $49,155.09 $25,556.36
2037 $50,190.87 $26,266.95
2038 $51,226.65 $26,977.53
2039 $52,262.44 $27,688.11
2040 $53,298.22 $28,398.69

Given that my son is brand spanking new, we’re looking at a projected TUITION cost of about $25,000 per year. That is currently the cost of one year of school. If the other costs (room and board, books and supplies, other fees) went up equivalently then in 18 years the cost of one year at CSU will go from $25,000 to $50,000. That’s one year of college.

Obvious math for the purposes of showing how painful the numbers are? A typical four year approach to college would cost $200,000. For a public school.

Looking at the above table, from 2011 to 2021 you’ve got a cost that has almost doubled (a 92% hike). What do you think the chances are of any person getting raises such that they make 92% more after 10 years of work? ie you’re hired on at $100,000, and ten years later you make $192,000?


Now that we’ve seen what we’re going to be dealing with, let’s talk about how to save up for that.

If you look up “don’t panic college cost” you’ll see a lot of articles talking about how grants and scholarships keep many from actually paying the full cost. That’s good, but you can’t plan on that. And more on that below.

Instead, you take advantage of some programs. Namely a 529 and a DCFSA.

First up, the 529. Every state provides a 529 and there are a ton of options. But it’s a way to put aside money, with tax advantages, that you’ll eventually use on college, vo-tech, books for school, etc (they have specific rules).

The DCFSA is a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. This is for when you have a little one. This is a tax advantages way to take money out of your paycheck (before it goes to you) and into this account which you then use to pay for daycare. If I’m already going to pay for daycare why not put money into a DCFSA to save myself a few tax dollars?

But here’s the thing!

In my case, my son won’t be in daycare til April but I am able, due to the fact that I don’t live paycheck to paycheck, to start putting money into the DCFSA right away. In fact, I don’t have a choice (I opted into this program when choosing medical insurance and such).

And again, thanks to a good salary, I am able to start putting money into my son’s college account (the 529) right away. With the investing that money will do, it’ll (hopefully) grow and invest into itself so that the money will grow.

With the fact that my wife and I have options and a good life, we’ll be able to provide stability, extracurricular options as the kiddo grows up, hopefully good schools, and parents who have predictable jobs and hours and we’ll be able to channel that into a good environment for a growing mind. This increases the odds of obtaining grants or scholarships.

With the 529, the DCFSA (to start the kid off right with a good daycare), and a healthy life that will increase the odds of being one of those who is able to secure scholarships or grants our kiddo will hopefully be able to afford college without crippling student loan debt should he choose to go.


Feel free to examine this from the perspective of someone who is less fortunate however you see. But a few points I’d like to make.

Would a mom or dad who is living more along the lines of paycheck to paycheck be able to afford the DCFSA? It could present a tougher challenge. Say a child is supposed to start daycare in June, you expect the mom or dad to sacrifice their precious paycheck that many months? And what if their kiddo is going to an unofficial, and therefore not DCFSA allowed, daycare or in home care?

And if they can’t do a DCFSA, what are the odds they’ll be able to do a 529?

And if they’re working jobs that don’t allow flexible hours, how easy will it be to have the kiddo join after school programs which prevent them from being able to take the bus home from school? And without a heavy resume when applying for colleges, the odds of a grant or scholarship for academic or extracurricular reasons decreases.

And if they’re looking at a $50,000 a year cost for college, isn’t it fair to look at that number and feel overwhelmed and less enthusiastic about pushing your child to better him or herself?


If you’re thinking, ‘well, it’s the American dream, you just have to work for it.’ Sure. I’m with you. But it’s like having two football teams where one has the latest pads, jerseys, cleats, etc and the other is playing naked. When you beat someone when you’ve got such a head start, it’s hardly worth patting yourself on the back.

Going worst case scenario – we live in a society where college (and housing, and autos) is increasing at a rate much, much faster than salaries are increasing. Aren’t we setting ourselves up to have a diminishing group of higher educated people? That does not benefit society as a whole.



Dear College

Hey! How are you? It’s me … I feel like I should reintroduce myself, but then again that seems so silly, we were together for four and a half years.

Earlier this month realized it’s been TEN years since we spoke and I just thought I’d write, say hi, see how you’re doing and what you’re up to.

I imagine you heard, but I’m married now! That’s crazy, right? Her name is Work, and she’s great. We spend a TON of time together and it’s so … good. Some people might say we spend too much time together, that we should be more like one of those relaxed European couples you always hear about but … I don’t know, I think it’s ok.

Anyway! What have you been up to? I heard you moved on pretty quickly. Not that I think that’s bad, I just … oh I don’t know, after we broke up I met Work but I still thought of you … probably too much.

Remember how some afternoons we’d go just do NOTHING and even take a nap sometimes? Oh man. That was so great. Work would NEVER do that with me.

I’m not saying Work is uptight! No way! Work’s awesome! She’s so great! It’s just …

Work doesn’t really like to just sit around and talk about stuff. You know? Like, if I say, ‘hey want to get drunk and talk about our feelings?’ I haven’t asked Work that, but I feel pretty confident she would NOT be down with that.

But whatever. She’s so cool.

College, you and I used to get in fights about finance and with Work that just does NOT happen. I used to get so frustrated because we’d go out to eat, or go on a trip, or go to a show, and you’d say, ‘hey mind paying for this? Also, rent’s due.’ It’s tacky to say, but it was INCREDIBLY expensive dating you. Work might sometimes feel a little soul sucking but at least I’m not broke.

Wait. Soul sucking. That sounds so bad.

Again, Work is awesome and I’m completely over you College.


Wasn’t it so awesome when we spent a couple months together learning about the assassination of JFK, crazy conspiracy theories, less crazy conspiracy theories, stuff like that? Do you know how pointless all of that knowledge is now? But it was great!

And there would be those days where I was heading to do something productive, and the weather was wonderful, and instead I’d skip being productive and just walk around and look at the flowers that had just been planted, find a spot to lay down, and read whatever I wanted instead of something technical?

Some days I miss you so much College!

I mean … our friendship. I never want to go back to you, I’m so, so, so happy with Work. We’ll be together forever. Or at least what will feel like forever.

(This is totally catty, but you don’t even know Work so whatever … but a friend of mine met this girl Retirement? She sounds A. Maze. Ing. But I’m kind of afraid she might be secretly poisoning my friend? I don’t have any proof, it’s just things started off so well for them but now he doesn’t like to travel or do anything because he’s ‘tired.’ Pft. Whatever. Watch your back, Retirement, I’m onto you.)

Ha! Boy, I really have been bouncing all over the place in this letter, huh College?

I just wanted to write, say hi, tell you that I still value our relationship and what it did for me, and that I hope you’re doing well.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

This weekend I welcome college football back into my life. Saturday SMU will play North Texas, a game that SHOULD be a game SMU wins, but you just never know.

The next weekend SMU plays again, this time against Baylor. A game I will describe as “missable” since I am pretty sure SMU will be a tune up for Baylor. However, West Point will be starting its football season with a game against Rice. This is a game that West Point could win, and so I will be listening with anguish, grief, agony, you name it (that is, unless Rice jumps out to a 40 point lead).

The very next day, the NFL has its first weekend of action.

Oh yes, it is an exciting time … but also terrible.

If SMU or Army are playing a game they could win and they perform poorly, or they hang in there with a tougher opponent but snatch defeat from the jaws of victory … well, it is heart-wrenching.

I recently thought out loud to my wife, “I wonder if I’d be happier if I never watched sports.” She thinks I’m nuts. But it’s like a great book, you root for a character even if they always come up short, you celebrate their occasional victories with joy but you grit your teeth and brace for the worst while hoping for the best.

Come on SMU, come on West Point, defy expectations!

(As for the NFL side I tend to be less emotional … but the Cardinals and Texans do have their own little keys to my heart.)

First Day of Work Tweets

@bikes4bullies, 6:36 am: Ahhhh! First day of work! SO EXCITED!!

@bikes4bullies, 7:12 am: Leaving now! I could hardly eat breakfast!

@bikes4bullies, 7:18 am: LOL! RT @summurrrrwhat: dude i think im still drunk. good luck.

@bikes4bullies, 7:40 am: Dang got here way too early! Now I’m sitting in the parking lot like a perv. Some good looking coworkers though o_O =D

@bikes4bullies, 8:10 am: Everyone is super nice. Score!

@bikes4bullies, 8:59 am: Ok. No harassment. No misuse of resources. No super long breaks. Don’t talk like an idiot. Don’t look like an idiot. Got it.

@bikes4bullies, 9:25 am: @champchimp4life Lawlz … No I write my tweets on the sly and only takes a few seconds so it’s not misusing any company time or anything.

@bikes4bullies, 9:26 am: The bathroom smells weird. Yes, I’m toilet tweeting. Twoileting?

@bikes4bullies, 10:02 am: Still in hr training stuff … so basically you’re saying use common sense … seriously, got it …

@bikes4bullies, 10:41 am: One of the people in the sexual harassment video was hot. Is that weird? jk jk

@bikes4bullies, 11:12 am: Goooooooood godddddddddd make this stop

@bikes4bullies, 11:14 am: LOL! RT @summurrrrwhat: thats what she said

@bikes4bullies, 12:49 pm: Lunch couldn’t last long enough. I’m only like 4 hours into my day. How is this possible?

@bikes4bullies, 2:14 pm: Dang I just realized like I have to do this like forever?

@bikes4bullies, 2:17 pm: I wonder if anyone has ever cried during training because they realized the summer of their life is over.

@bikes4bullies, 2:19 pm: hahasorry too real right?

@bikes4bullies, 3:02 pm: Wow. This guy I just walked by is like a genuine hunchback. I think I’m going to do that 10 minute break from your computer an hour thing.

@bikes4bullies, 3:14 pm: Would it be considered bad to play hooky on your second day of work?

@bikes4bullies, 3:52 pm: Ok sorry. Got some negative tweets. I’ve got a job. It’s good. It’s cool. It’s just that I miss college.

@bikes4bullies, 4:12 pm: Saw my desk. This is some genuine Office Space stuff right here! I even saw a guy with a red stapler.

@bikes4bullies, 4:14 pm: Who is going out tonight?

@bikes4bullies, 4:15 pm: Because I’m not! LOL!

@bikes4bullies, 4:20 pm: Got a bunch of responses to that … Maybe it’s less LOL and more … I don’t know. The guy I sit next to has been working in that EXACT SAME CUBE longer than I’ve been alive.

@bikes4bullies, 4:34 pm: Did you know 26 minutes is 1,560 seconds? I just learned that.

@bikes4bullies, 4:35 pm: Did you know 25 minutes is 1,500 seconds? Haha ok I’m done.

@bikes4bullies, 4:44 pm: Here’s my new way to tell how slowly time is moving … If I’d rather be doing sit-ups time is SLOW. If I’d rather be at yoga time is moving at an ungodly slow pace.

@bikes4bullies, 4:59 pm: So a co-worker just told me that one guy at work Googled my name and found my Twitter account and apparently a lot of people I set by have been watching this and laughing all day.

@bikes4bullies, 5:01 pm: Oh shit they saw that too.

@bikes4bullies, 5:04 pm: See you tomorrow (co-workers). Everyone else, I’ll write you on fb to send you a new screen name

A New Regret

Recently I have realized a regret that I didn’t know until … recently. I wish I had done a radio show in college.

At my college they were easy to get and there’s absolutely no pressure because no one is listening to you!

But wait, you think, if no one is paying attention what’s the point? What would you do? Who would you interview?

The point is I would do whatever I want! I would interview myself pretending to be other people (giving me a chance to do silly voices and impressions). I’ve got news people, we all have that one friend who likes to do accents or impressions – those people are only TOO ready to do accents or impressions. No one is more dazzled by their accents/impressions than themselves.

Would I care that no one is listening to me (as myself) asking questions of myself (as a meat head or stereotypical sorority girl or gay German man named Gunter)? No! I wouldn’t care at all! Because my target audience (me) would be listening!

Of course I would love it if people tuned in because maybe, just maybe, someone would say something to acknowledge something I feel is a genuine skill and comedic talent … But the shameful part is if I get sad enough, I will just make up a new voice of some over the top enthusiastic supporter and then interview him and maybe for good measure throw in an “angry caller number 7” voice and then I would moderate the conversation as myself and radio drama would ensue.

Oh college radio show, what fun we would’ve had. My self-created, 7 views one with one dislike best of radio show highlights youtube video would’ve been a regular watch as my days went by.

P.S. I have been watching a lot of Futurama so maybe I am jealous of being a voice actor.

P.P.S. That whole doing this for my own amusement also explains a LOT of this blog.

2013 SMU Football Predictions

Ok folks, tonight is SMU’s season opener and it’ll be a tough one (so tough that I am expecting to only be able to watch a half before I am too sad to fully pay attention). Let’s ignore that for now and look back at my record so far.

In 2011 I predicted the Mustangs would go 8-4. Instead they went 7-5, winning a bowl game to bring them to 8-5. (I didn’t predict all of the games correctly, for example I thought they’d lose to TCU but they actually beat them.)

In 2012 I predicted the Mustangs would go 8-4 … Instead they went 6-6 (overall 7-6 because of a bowl game win).

My prediction skills, like the Mustangs abilities, apparently decreased.

With that in mind, here are my 2013 predictions!

Anywho, time to get down to it!

8/30 v Texas Tech Nope. Nope nope nope.
9/7 v Montana State Bounce back game!
9/21 @ Texas A&M I may skip watching this one
9/28 @ TCU Victory! (It’s unlikely but why not?)
10/06 Rutgers (Family Weekend) Loss
10/13 @ Memphis Win
10/18 v Temple (Homecoming) Win
10/27 @ Cincinnati Loss
11/03 v Connecticut Win
11/10 @ USF Loss
11/17 @ Houston Loss
11/24 v UCF Loss


Overall predicted record: 5-7. (And I have to admit, that’s optimistic.)

2013 will be a year of cheering on SMU without getting too into the games so that I can avoid frustration and anger. Or, I’ll just listen to or watch games and get angry – turn on my NCAA football game and play that while continuing to listen/watch and at least in the virtual world SMU will be good.

It’s All About Perspective

Yesterday a good friend of mine (never mind the fact that I haven’t called him in a long time) had his birthday. I thought about this (and didn’t call him) … but I did decide to write about this funny story!

He went to West Point, or the United States Military Academy, and I went to Southern Methodist University, or rich-kid private liberal arts college. He and I probably had very different college experiences.

Before my freshman year of college I attended “Mustang Corral.” It was a couple of days where incoming freshman went off to some place, and we were supposed to bond and befriend each other and such. The group I was assigned to had some good looking, fun, outgoing, happy people – this made me sort of shut down. If I’m uncomfortable and around people who seem very comfortable, it’s time for my inner kid-who-sits-in-the-corner-and-just-daydreams to shine. Real wallflower power.

There are a few funny stories from that camp but that’s for another time.

I got back from the few days and had not managed to make any friends. I had spent the time hanging out with a guy I called Big John (in my head, not to him). He was a big fella from Texas who just didn’t talk. He and I could hang out, not talking, for up to an hour at a time. It was splendid. Thankfully I ended up seeing this guy Big Red (who I had met at some other orientation thing) and I found out he would be living right next door. Other than that, I left the camp worried.

I don’t know anyone here, my family lives super far away, I’m in college and what if I fail? … All this mess is scary.

Then, a phone call. It’s my best buddy from high school!

I answer the phone and he is PUMPED. Super excited and happy. You know why? Because he had finished Beast (the “orientation” cadets go through before their freshman year). And he was walking around in circles, because no one was around to tell him what to do.

He was so excited … About walking in circles …

It may be cruel, but I was really happy at that moment. I realized just how stupid my worries were – of course I was nervous, and of course I didn’t have friends (I didn’t TALK to anyone). After I got off the phone with my buddy I went next door and met Big Red’s roommates (I didn’t care much for any of them – but it was still a good thing to do).

Happy birthday to my friend who has helped me without knowing it more times than one! And … I really should call you sometime.

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