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Going Into Debt for My Kids

There has been a lot of talk lately about student loans for college. I have been asked again and again by friends and family if I believe the money that we fork out for college education for our two boys is worth it.

Our older son will be in his fourth year of an expensive art school In New York, and our younger son will be attending the same college in September. Tuition is $34,000 a year, not including living expenses. Do you know how much it costs to live in N.Y.C? I certainly do now—about $25,000 a year!

For years we had tried to save up enough money so we could send our boys to the school of their choice, but life got in the way.

My husband makes a decent living as an insurance agent and I have been a stay-at-home mom for the last 21 years. After my sons moved out I started a cooking blog called Empty Nest Two Plates Full. I also volunteer for Meals on Wheels, take care of our four dogs and two cats and am working on my photography skills.

Our oldest son has always been interested in acting, writing, directing and making movies. Ever since he was a little boy, he has been the performer, doing magic tricks for friends and family, acting as the class clown at school and so on.

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His dream ever since I can remember has been to go to college and earn a degree in television and film. He applied to all the famous film schools like NYU and USC, but his grades were just not up to par. He finally found an art school in New York City that was just the perfect fit for what he wanted to do.

Our younger son is very close to his older brother, and always wanted to live in New York City ... and it didn't hurt that his girlfriend wanted to move to New York City too! He is pursuing a degree in TV and film.

For years we had tried to save up enough money so we could send our boys to the school of their choice, but life got in the way—the economy, the mortgage, my husband’s heart attack, etc. When we found out how much college was going to cost, we wondered how in the world we would ever be able to afford it … and would it be worth it?

After a lot of research we ended up taking out a series of loans, and that is what is getting our kids through college. Will my husband ever be able to retire? Probably not. Is the money worth it? Right now I think so, but ask me again in a few years when they have both graduated.

Our oldest son is living his dream right now, and if he was not going to college (and had we not taken out the loan), that would have been impossible. He has totally put himself out there in New York. He has written for two famous newspapers, worked on a television show and directed and written several projects.

Could he have done this without going to an art school? I feel he definitely could. I'm not sure he's actually learned anything that he didn't already know, but financially he wouldn't have made it. He had to go to school in order for us to get the loans that enabled him to live in New York. He couldn't have done the creative work he did while working a full time job to pay N.Y.C. rents.

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We wanted our sons to get degrees and work experience at the same time. In the end, only time will tell if the degree has any benefit in his field. He is interning right now for a late night talk show and hopefully when he graduates, he will get a job there, unless something comes along before he graduates and he makes a ton of money. Then he can quit school and pay back his loan and buy us a little house on a beach somewhere.

Some people think we are crazy for overextending ourselves. My husband will never be able to retire unless our kids are able to pay back the loans. Due to the debt we've increased our life insurance, which we think is very important. For me and my husband, nothing is more important than each other and our children. We want them to have their dreams. That wasn't a choice for my husband. Did he wake up one day and say, “Oh, I think I want to be an insurance agent?” No. He had his own dreams of being a coach or working in real estate, but at the time there was no money in those fields, and he wanted a secure lifestyle for his family.

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For me, all I ever wanted was to be a mom and my dream has been fulfilled. We have raised two of the most remarkable young men I have ever met. We are so very proud of the people they have become. As for our youngest child who will be starting school soon, who knows what the future will hold for him. So, is it worth the money? Absolutely!

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