All About College Planning

College Planning

Graduation ceremonies abound this time of year. It is a reminder that college expenses are just around the corner.

18 years ago, parents might have begun saving for their child’s college costs with a Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) or a Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA). This is an account that is set up in the minor’s name. A parent may be the custodian on the account.

These were popular because the earnings were taxed at the child’s tax rate. Tax laws eventually changed and now the first $1,000 is tax exempt. The amount between $1,000 and $2,000 is taxed at the child’s rate. Amounts over $2,000 are taxed at the parent’s rate.

The amount you may accumulate in an UGMA is unlimited. However, the annual gift tax amount does apply which is currently at $14,000.

There aren’t any restrictions on how the money may be used. It can be used for travel costs to the college, off campus housing, clothing, medical insurance etc. Monies can also be used on behalf of the child prior to college such as private schooling and summer camps. However, basic needs of the child need to be paid by the parents or guardians.

Unlike some college savings programs, you can’t change the beneficiary on the account. The child, for whom you set the account up, is the one who needs to use ALL the assets. Ownership of the account is the student’s.

This has 2 drawbacks. If you apply for financial aid, the monies are counted as the child’s and 30% of the assets will be included in the family contribution. As the parent’s asset, only 10% of the assets is included.

The second drawback is the control of the assets transfers to the child at the age of majority, which may be 18 -21 depending on the state. At 18 years of age, a car can be much more appealing than a college education.

Fortunately, Congress has established other tax favored means of saving for college expenses.

We will explore those options in the next few weeks.

Educational Savings Accounts

Are college expenses looming on your horizon? Educational Savings Accounts are another option available to save for college costs.

This savings account is a nondeductible contribution limited to $2,000 per year, per child. The earnings on the contribution grows tax deferred and can be 100% tax free if used for qualified expenses. The $2,000 limit is from all sources, including grandparents.

Qualified college expenses include tuition and fees, books, supplies, equipment, and room and board if the student is attending at least half time. Educational Savings Accounts may also cover expenses for K-12.

Contributions may be made until the child reaches 18. And the monies must be used by the time the child/beneficiary reaches 30. However as the asset is the parents’, the beneficiary may be changed to another family member. This allows flexibility in planning for the child’s further education. Some children may choose other routes like military, or receive scholarships.

And since the asset is the parents, it is counted as such in the financial aid family contribution.

The money may only be withdrawn tax free if it is used for qualified expenses. If it is used for other purposes, the earnings are included in taxable income, and is subject to a 10% penalty. Be careful to not overfund.

529 Plans

A more commonly known college savings plan is the Qualified Tuition Program or 529 plans. What is less well known is there are 2 types of this plan under this program.

A lesser known program is the prepaid tuition plan. Prepaid tuition plans allow you to buy future tuition at today’s prices. With 6% inflation per year in college costs, locking in a price has some advantages. The drawback is, knowing which college your child will want to attend. Once you fund at a college, you are locked in – very few exceptions for refunds.

The more recognized 529 plans act similarly to the educational savings plan. The contributions are not deductible. But the earnings grow tax free. The monies are withdrawn tax free if they are used for qualified college expenses and ONLY for college expenses. If they are used for other purposes, the gains on the funds are included in taxable income and subject to a 10% penalty.

The amount you may fund is limited to the $14,000 annual gift tax exclusion. Unless you select the 5 year election, then your maximum is $70,000. The collective maximum you invest is determined by the program and may be as much as $300,000 per beneficiary.

Nearly every mutual fund family has a 529 program. However, your state may have a specific plan. For example, Idaho has the Ideal plan. If you contribute under this program, you may deduct up to $8,000 per year on your Idaho income tax return. You are restricted to the investment choices of the program.

The 529 plans maintain some flexibility. There is no age restriction of when you have to use the funds. Also, you can change the beneficiary on the plan to another family member.

One key to college planning is flexibility. Life brings changes and you need to be able to adapt your plans.

U.S. Savings Bonds for College

Double the money! Another college savings option with relatively low risk is the U. S. Savings Bonds. These types of bonds are usually purchased and redeemed at your bank. They are issued in denominations of $50 to $10,000. For example a $50 bond would cost you $25.

The typical bond issue is Series EE. The earnings are usually tax deferred for Federal and tax free for state. Some post 1989 EE bonds may be redeemed federally tax free if used for qualified higher education. To be federally tax free, the bond owner must be at least 24 years old before the bond’s issue date. Bonds purchased for grandchildren in the grandchild’s name usually won’t qualify for this exemption.

Parents have a restriction of income for the bonds to be tax free. If you are married filing jointly, your phase out range for tax exemption of savings bonds for education currently is from $113,950 to $143,950. As head of household, the range is $76,000 to $91,000.

However, giving a series EE bond to grandchildren may build a nice fund for the child. There is more flexibility in how the money can be spent – without penalty. And anybody can give a gift of a bond. Parents may encourage gifts of this kind to keep children from being over indulged with the latest, greatest toys.

The series EE bond has a 20 year cycle. It can be redeemed before the 20 year period. However, if you redeem within the first 5 years, you will have a penalty of 3 months interest – similar to a Certificate of Deposit. To determine the value of your Series EE bond you can go to the bond calculator at

Roth IRA for College

Roth IRA’s are another option that can be part of your game plan for college funding.

One of the challenges in planning for college is to know what your newborn’s talents will be, what college they should attend, or will they get scholarships or have great athletic talent. Add the fact, that if you over fund your 529 plan or educational savings account, you will have a 10% penalty to use the monies for non-qualified expenditures.

I know of an instance where the child attended college in England in order to absorb the monies accumulated in the 529 plan.

So how do you adequately fund without over funding? One means is to use a Roth IRA. You can withdraw principal contributions from a Roth, if it has been established for at least 5 years, without incurring income tax or a penalty. This is a means to save tax free and use it for college if necessary.

You can fund a Roth IRA up to $5,500 a year. There are income restrictions. Your contributions is phased out if you are married filing jointly and your Adjusted Gross Income is over $167,000. And you aren’t eligible if your income is over $181,000. If you are single, your adjusted gross income phase out range is between $105,000 and $120,000.

A word of caution is careful to not jeopardize your own retirement to fund your child’s college. Or you may decide to work a few years more to replenish the funds distributed from your retirement account.

Tax Credits and Other Options

College funding is often like a chess game. You have to move pieces around carefully. Tax laws are chess moves that can be played in the years the dependent is a student.

The American Opportunity Credit gives you a tax credit for college expenses. The first $2,000 of college expense is credited to your taxes – 40% is refundable, 60%reduces your taxes but is not refundable. 25% of the next $2,000 is eligible for credit. The total credit is $2,500 in one year. This credit can be used on first 4 years of undergraduate courses.

Lifetime Learning Credit may also be used to offset college expenses. This credit is non-refundable, but does reduce your tax bill. The credit is 20% of college expenses up to $10,000 or maximum of $2,000. This credit can be applied to both undergraduate and graduate work.

Both credits are applied to qualified college expenses defined as tuition and fees, books, supplies, and equipment. Room and board is not qualified expenses. These tax credits do have income limitations. But they can be used for taxpayer, spouse or dependents.

Another savings option available to some parents comes from their employer’s stock purchase program. Frequently, these programs allow employees to buy at a 10% – 15% discounted price. And you can payroll deduct giving you disciplined savings. This is another way to accumulate assets, leave it as an asset in your financial aid calculation with only 10% counting towards family contribution. It is also in your name, so if it isn’t needed for college, you can use it as you please. Several clients have had this option work well for them. One client set aside stock from a previous employer for his children. Both children received full ride scholarships. The clients now own a cabin. FLEXIBILITY!!!

Another option you can use similar to the Roth IRA is a traditional IRA. While this will come out as taxable income to the parent, it can be withdrawn free of the 10% early distribution penalty. A word of caution: The 1099R will be issued with reason listed as unknown. Higher education expenses are one of the penalty exemption reasons. Be sure you, or your tax preparer, are aware of this and complete the early distribution form correctly. Again, be careful to not jeopardize your own retirement in helping your child.

After all these many suggestions of HOW to save – WHAT investments do you use? To receive tax deductions on your state income tax return, you may have to use the state program. Regardless of which fund family you use, the investing philosophy is the same. It is similar to retirement planning. The younger the child is, the more aggressive you can be in your investing. The closer to college the child is the more principal preservation becomes your focus. In the 2008 melt down, I called my clients with children nearing college age to tell them to take a couple years tuition to cash. They did not have recovery time before tuition would be due. You want the funds to be there when the child is ready to start college. And you want to sleep peacefully.

Benefit Choosing The Right College

With the high cost of a college education, no one wants to pay more than they must. Yet thousands of families pay too much for college every year because they don’t understand the basics of financial aid and don’t know the right questions to ask. So let’s learn the basics and then what questions to ask.

Basics Part I

There are three types of financial aid for college: grants or scholarships, loans and work-study.

Grants and scholarships are free money that you do not need to pay back.

Most grants and scholarships come from the federal and state government or from the individual college.

Loans need to be paid back after college.

There are many loan programs available from the federal and state government. Most of these loans have fairly low interest rates. There are also private loans available although these generally have a higher interest rate.

Work-study is a job offered on the campus of the college.

Basics Part II

Need based aid vs Merit based aid

Need based aid is given by all colleges to students who have need. Anyone who can’t pay the full cost of the college has need.

A form called the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) determines the amount of need for federal grants and scholarships. Many highly selective colleges also require a form known as the Profile form The FAFSA form is filled out after January 1 of the year the student will first attend college.

The FAFSA and Profile forms ask questions about the income of the parents and student using information that you gave on your tax returns. These forms also ask questions about the amount of money you have in savings or investments. The Profile form is more detailed than the FAFSA form. Once these forms are completed the government uses the FAFSA form to determine how much your family can pay for college. This is your expected family contribution or your EFC. Your EFC is the same regardless of the cost of the college. Similarly the individual colleges who use the Profile use that form to determine what your family can pay for college.

Your need is the cost of the college you are looking at minus your EFC. For example, if you are looking at a college that costs $20,000 a year and your EFC is $5,000, your need at that college is $15,000. If you are looking at a college that costs $40,000 a year your EFC is still $5,000. Your need at this college is $35,000.

Merit-based aid includes scholarships typically for students who have good grades or have some other special talent such as athletic or musical talent. Most highly selective colleges offer little or no merit-based aid.

Finally, in looking at colleges you should ignore the cost of the college. Yes, you read that right. Ignore the stated cost of the college when you are first deciding which colleges to investigate further. You will see why later in this article.

So now you know the basics. Now comes the fun part: How to save money by asking the right questions.

Questions to ask the colleges

Question 1What percent of my need do you meet?

Remember that EFC, or expected family contribution that the FAFSA determined? Some colleges will meet 100% of your need. Need again is defined as the cost of the college minus your EFC. So what does it mean if a college says they will meet 100% of your need? It means that once the FAFSA or Profile form has determined how much you can pay for college, the college will pay 100% of the rest of the bill.

Colleges will typically meet the need you have using a combination of grants, loans and work study. Most colleges will award work study and loans first and if there is a need after that, the remaining need will be supplied by grants. The colleges will typically have a standard loan and work study amount that they award and you should ask about what these numbers are when investigating the college.

Let’s see an example of a financial aid award from a college that provides 100% of need with a student who has an EFC of $5,000.

Total cost of college $40,000

Expected family contribution $ 5,000

Need $35,000

Financial aid award

Work study $ 2,000

Loans $ 4,000

Grants $29,000

At a college that meets 100% of your need you pay $5,000.

But what happens if the college doesn’t meet 100% of need? Many less selective colleges don’t pay the total amount of need that their students have. Let’s use the example of our imaginary college from above only this time assume that the school only provides 90% of need.

Total cost of college $40,000

Families expected contribution $ 5,000

Need $35,000

This college only provides 90% of the $35,000 need or $31,500. Thus, your out of pocket expenses are the $5,000 EFC plus an additional $3,500 for a total cost of $8,500.

This example makes it easy to see why a school that meets 100% of need is often a better financial aid deal than a school who doesn’t meet all of the families need.

Many of the most expensive private colleges meet 100% of the students need while cheaper public colleges usually meet less than 100% of the need. This means that for many students it can be cheaper to go to an expensive private college than to attend a cheaper state school. Until you know what percent of need the college meets, don’t eliminate a college from consideration just because it is expensive.

Question 2- Do you have merit based aid?

Many colleges that don’t meet 100% of a students need do offer scholarships for some students. If your student is near the top of the application pool for a less selective college they may get some money if they qualify for merit based aid. Thus, in some cases, if the student is willing to look at a less selective college, they may get a better financial aid package. Here are some questions you should ask if the college provides merit aid.

How many merit awards are available?

What is the value of the merit awards available?

What are the qualifications to receive one of these merit awards?

This works even for families that don’t qualify for need based aid at all. If your student can qualify for a merit based award you won’t need to pay the full stated cost of the college.

Question 3- How is financial aid determined after the first year?

Some colleges have a policy of providing good financial aid for the first year and then substantially reducing the grant aid in the following years while increasing the loans. You should ask the college in which you are interested how they determine financial aid after the first year and what the average loan is after the first year. While it is typical that the amount of loans will increase each year if the increase is substantial you will want to take that into consideration.

Question 4- What is the average loan amount at graduation of those students who have loans? This question will give you the best indication of the amount of loans that this college requires compared to other colleges in which you may be interested. Although most students will have some loans when they graduate, you don’t want this amount to be any more than necessary.

Question 5- What is your policy regarding outside scholarships?

Most colleges will subtract money earned in outside scholarships from your financial aid package. Some colleges will reduce the loan burden by the amount of the scholarship, but other colleges will reduce your grant money. If the college reduces the amount of loans you have to take out that is a benefit to you. There is no benefit to you if the college reduces the grant aid.

Question 6- What is your packaging policy?

Most colleges give a financial aid package that includes grant money, loans and work study. But each college combines this money differently. Specifically you want to know:

What percentage of an aid package from your college is grant vs. self-help (loans, work study)?

The greater amount of grants versus loans and work study the better for the student.

Do you have a preferential packaging policy?

Preferential packaging occurs when a college gives a better financial aid package to a student with a stronger academic profile than to another student with the same financial need but with less academic credentials.

Question 7- What is your four year graduation rate?

What difference does a college’s four year graduation rate make? This is an important question that many people never consider. Another way to phrase this is, How many years of college am I going to have to pay for? If the college has a high four year graduation rate, you will most likely only have to pay for four years of college. However, if the college graduates most students in six years then you can plan on paying for six years of college, not four.


Now that you know something about financial aid, including the questions to ask each college you are considering, you can make an informed decision in paying for a college education and hopefully also save some money.

Things To Consider When Choosing College

In trying to decide what type of college will best meet your wants and needs there are many things to consider. Listed below are some of the factors you will need to consider in deciding where you want to go to college.

Type of institution- Private or Public. College or University. Church sponsored.

Colleges can be either public or private. Public colleges are those that are supported by the state in which they are located. Many highly ranked colleges in the United States are state-supported institutions. These colleges can often provide an excellent education at a price for an in-state resident that is much less than comparable private colleges. At the early stages of your investigation, I would encourage you to consider both private and public colleges.

While private colleges frequently cost more than comparable state institutions, they often have the financial means to offer generous need-based or scholarship-based financial aid. This aid can make the cost of a private college the same or less than attending your state college.

Many of the more selective private universities and colleges have a religious affiliation. The extent of spiritual influence varies. But at the beginning of your college search, we strongly encourage you to investigate all private colleges, regardless of religious affiliation.

Academics- What courses and majors are you looking for

The most important reason for going to college is to get an education. The type of academic atmosphere and variety of courses studied is an important factor to be considered when choosing a college. Be careful, however, of choosing a college based solely on it having a particular major or field of study. Research shows that 90% of all college graduates do not major in the field of study they originally had intended. This happens for several reasons.

First, most colleges have majors in subjects you have never before studied such as political science or anthropology. Second, as you gain experience and maturity in college, your interests may change. Take time to explore your options and be realistic about your talents. Be sure to pursue a course of study that is of genuine interest to you, not just one you think might lead to a good career.

If you do have a strong interest in a particular area, such as science, it is important to evaluate a college’s facilities and offerings in those areas to make sure they have adequate resources. Remember that many smaller colleges may not offer majors in certain professional fields, such as engineering, business, or physical therapy. If you are certain of a specific field of study, be sure that the colleges and universities you are considering offer that major.

Don’t exclude a smaller college, however, simply because you think the resources may be inadequate. Remember that all of the resources of a college are available to its undergraduate students whereas at a large university, many of the specialized equipment might be reserved for graduate students only. Some of the largest producers of PhD’s in this country are small colleges.

Atmosphere- Liberal, conservative or something in between

Each college has a particular “feel”. Many factors go into creating the feel of that college’s including the responsibility the administration of the college allows the students, the competitiveness of the students with each other and the students involvement in social concerns.

Every campus will have a different feel. What is important is to determine if the campus atmosphere will be comfortable for you as a person. The best advice regarding student life is to look for an intellectual and social climate in which you will feel comfortable and challenged.

There is no substitute to visiting the college to discovery how any college feels. By talking to students, professors and administration on a campus, students can gain a better feel for that college’s culture. Also, look around as you are on the campus. What activities are putting posters up, and what are people talking about? These are just a few of the issues to look at in understanding the feel of each college

Student body and gender- Co-ed college or single sex

While most campuses now are coed there are still some all women colleges available for students to consider. The women’s colleges can be an excellent choice for the right student as they often offer not only strong academics but also strong support for women that might be lacking in similar coed colleges. And lest you fear that you will be living in a convent, almost all women’s colleges now have some sort of relationship with coed schools so men will be around even in an all women’s college.

Setting- Where do you want to live

The physical environment of the college may be very important to you. Some people prefer the variety of activities offered by a large city. However, a large city requires certain adjustments that not everyone will be comfortable with. For instance, an inner city college will often not have the classic college campus look. Rather, it will consist of high rise classes rooms and dorms.

Others want to go to college in a more rural setting. These more rural campuses will often have the classic ivy covered buildings with beautiful scenery in all directions. But the excitement of a large city will be missing from such a campus and for those students seeking big time athletics or popular concert venues may not be comfortable in such a setting. The decision of a location and campus setting comes down to the question of where you would like to spend the next four years living.

Size- Large university or small college

The following are generalizations, so if some of these areas are of concern, ask questions at the colleges you are considering:

A large university (15,000-50,000+ students) may offer a variety of academic opportunities including elaborate facilities and large libraries, as well as the stimulation of a large faculty, graduate students and undergraduates. However, housing may be more difficult to obtain, more courses may be taught by graduate students, lecture sessions may be very large, and opportunities for leadership in campus organizations may be diminished.

A medium-sized university (5,000-15,000 students) may offer fewer majors and more modest facilities than a large university, but also may offer greater opportunities to participate in the activities of your choice.

Small colleges (under 5,000 students) usually offer smaller classes, earlier opportunities to take classes with well-known professors, and more chances for participation and leadership in campus activities. However, facilities and classes may be limited and options for activities and diversity reduced.

Location- Where do you want to spend the next 4 years

When considering the possible locations of your future colleges, consider questions such as:

How important is it for me to attend college close to home?

How much do I value attending college with students of different geographic backgrounds?

How frequently do I anticipate going home during the academic year?

How extensively does the weather affect my studies or quality of life?

Consider whether you would prefer a geographically diverse student body, or a regional community of students from more homogeneous backgrounds.

Campus life- What happens on campus when people aren’t in class

Whether you enjoy your college years will often depend on the experience of living on a college campus. Learning in college comes not only from your class work but also through interacting with your college friends, extracurricular activities, and just hanging out in the dorm. Here are some factors that can affect your college experience.

Housing Living on-campus for the first few years of their college experience is important for many students. Dormitories can become a focus of college campus life and the easiest way to meet new friends. If it is an important consideration for you, remember to ask any college in which you are interested about the availability of on-campus housing for all four years. Some colleges only have enough housing for the first year or two of the college experience.

Extracurricular activities The extracurricular activities you engage in are not only fun but can be part of your learning experience. Look at the view books of the colleges to see what activities are available. Talk to people at the colleges you are considering to find out what activities are popular on that campus. Many colleges have 100 or more groups for students with a variety of interests. Also ask about how easy it is to start a new group if you have a particular interest not currently represented on the campus.

Fraternities and Sororities The presence of a Greek system can have a dramatic effect on campus life. Ask people on campus about how the fraternities and sororities affect the social life of any college in which you are interested. Do they dominate the social scene or is it spread between many different groups? Can anyone go to a Greek party or are the limited only to certain students?

Campus Employment Many students will hold a part-time job on or off campus while enrolled full time in college. Talk to current students about the availability of jobs and what types of jobs students typically get. With budget cutbacks, some colleges are starting to limit the number of jobs available to students on campus. If you need to have a job but have to seek one off campus, think about the time involved in getting to such a job and the additional costs of transportation.

Athletics- Are big time athletics important to you.

Many students who engage in high college athletics may want to continue to play that sport in college. College students participate at three levels: intramural, club, and intercollegiate. Intramural play is most common. Intramurals allow students to compete at a variety of different levels of competition with a primary emphasis on enjoying the sport for personal fitness, relaxation, and fun. Club sport teams are usually jointly sponsored by students and the college, and may compete against other colleges’ club teams.

Intercollegiate athletics is the university equivalent of varsity-level sports. These programs are categorized by the NCAA into three divisions of varying degrees of competition: Division I, Division II, and Division III.

Selectivity- How hard is it to get into a college.

Your academic performance in a challenging, rigorous program of study is the most important factor in determining your admissibility to colleges. Admission committees value a consistent level of achievement over four years, but they also give strong weight to students who demonstrate significant improvement over the course of their academic career. While your grades are the most obvious indication of potential future success, colleges also want to see that students have challenged themselves in a competitive, demanding academic program throughout their entire high college career. The more honor and AP courses you are able to take successfully, the stronger candidate you will be. Does that mean that you should take AP courses even if the material if too difficult for you? No. But most admission committees will give more weight to a B in an AP course than an A in a much simpler course.

Standardized testing also plays a critical role in admissions. Virtually all colleges will accept either the SAT I or the ACT. Many of the highly selective colleges also require or recommend SAT II subject test. The most important thing to keep in mind for each of the colleges you are considering is their ‘middle 50%’ range of testing. While a quarter of admitted students have scores either above or below this test range, such a median range will give a general indication of the strength of the applicant pool and how you compare.

After looking at your academic performance and your test scores, most selective colleges will then look at subjective factors such as your recommendations, your essays and your extracurricular activities. The amount of weight given to these subjective factors varies from college to college.

Financial aid- If I do get in, how am I going to pay for the college.

Financial aid may consist of grants or scholarships, loans and work study. Grants and scholarships are money that does not need to be repaid while loans need to be repaid. Work study is generally a job offered on the campus of the college offering the financial aid although it may also be a job off campus.

There are two basic types of financial aid; need based aid and merit based aid. Need based aid is given by all colleges to students who have need. Anyone who can’t pay the full cost of the college has need.

A form called the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) determines the amount of need for federal grants and scholarships. Many highly selective colleges also require a form known as the Profile form The FAFSA form is filled out after January 1 of the year the student will first attend college.

Merit-based aid includes scholarships typically for students who have good grades or have some other special talent such as athletic or musical talent. Most highly selective colleges offer little or no merit-based aid.

In looking at colleges you should ignore the cost of the college. Yes, you read that right. Ignore the stated cost of the college when you are first deciding which colleges to investigate further. Many of the most expensive private colleges meet 100% of the students need while cheaper public colleges usually meet less than 100% of the need. This means that for many students it can be cheaper to go to an expensive private college than to attend a cheaper state school. Until you know what percent of need the college meets, don’t eliminate a college from consideration just because it is expensive.

Secret Tips For Became Successful College Student

College student retention is always on the forefront of the minds of college student advisors, deans, and administrators. Rightfully so, because without college students, colleges and universities cease to exist and the advisors and deans are without a job.

Therefore retention and academic success is hugely important to ensure the success of a college or university. As a former college student and lifelong learner who frequents college campuses speaking on this topic and occasionally taking some professional development coursework myself, I have observed and come to know a few reasons why colleges fail at retention and why college students become discouraged and leave college.

1. College students are tolerated rather than celebrated.

When the higher-ups in a college take a hierarchical approach to education and treat students like they are beneath them, students feel alienated and become disgruntled. Nobody likes to be mistreated, particularly college students paying high fees to attend a college.

When bureaucrats within college administration, the transcript office, and the student union treat college students disrespectfully rather than serving them gladly, it frustrates college students and tells them the college or university does not care about them.

When colleges treat their students like another number, eventually students opt for a different approach to pursue their career. Students like to be respected too and not made to stand in line excessively to collect documents, books, parking decals and trivial things that to them are meaningless.

2. College students get angry at being nickled and dimed by colleges.

College students quite frankly don’t like paying high tuition fees to attend college, only to later by charged for parking, and than get ticketed for parking in the wrong place when they were running late to class and there was inadequate parking to begin with.

Let’s face the facts. Professors themselves on many college campuses have a hard time finding a place to park. Yet colleges continue to profit by issuing parking tickets. Making students pay $50 to $100 a semester to park is bad enough. Colleges run their parking lots like Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios in Orlando, profiting handsomely along the way.

Even worse is when the college intentionally and purposefully pursues issuing parking tickets night and day to collect more revenue for the college. Robbing Peter (or your college students who are already challenged financially) to pay Paul (this being the college) doesn’t endear college students to the academic institution and university. On the contrary, it makes the burning mad and eventually mad enough to consider attending college elsewhere.

3. College students get demoralized when they approach their professor for help and the professor doesn’t give them the time of day, nor an adequate explanation for their problem.

Professors at colleges and universities just working to further their career, collect a paycheck, and publish their latest dissertation or book who don’t give students the time of day leave students feeling demoralized when they are struggling with a class.

Class assignments and college level material comes easier for some students than others. Therefore when a student is struggling and needs some additional time or help, the professor should make himself or herself available to help the student.

Unfortunately many times nowadays college professors just want to communicate via email, that is if they even check their email and reply in time to help the struggling student and answer their questions. Online forums are another method by which professors try to punt and shun students in need of help.

What colleges fail to realize however is students go to college for hands on instruction and interaction with professors, not to be alienated through an online course or partial net based course that keeps professors and college students at arms length.

4. Financial challenges and constraints cause students to withdraw from college.

Colleges aren’t free and students cannot always obtain financial aid. Scholarships are wonderful if a student can get one to go to college, but many students are forced to work a part-time job to survive financially and put themselves through college.

I know I worked a part-time job to put myself through college and rode a bicycle to and from school and work. The sacrifices I made to complete my college education were many.

With the current economic downturn and rising unemployment level, many college students are being laid off from part-time jobs and struggling financially to sustain themselves and pay for their college education.

5. Students withdraw from college when they don’t feel socially connected.

A solid social life wherein a student feels connected to other students on his or her college campus is vital to ensure their success. Emotional support and the comradery of friends who understand them and their struggles empower students to persevere with their college education.

When student advisors, deans, and college administration fail to account for and proactively facilitate the necessary social element that sustains students’ morale, they do themselves and their college a great disservice. Undeniably and undoubtedly, college students want to feel connected and a part of something larger than themselves. Yet it is not a connection to an academic institution per say that they desire as much as it is to their fellow students journeying with them through this season of college life.

Successful colleges therefore don’t just suggest and make social activities and associations available for students, but proactively facilitate and incorporate this into their college’s approach to education early on. By doing so, successful colleges provide every student, including those more shy students with less social initiative the opportunity to be actively engaged and socially interact with other students. This opens the door for meaningful interaction, communication, and the establishing of meaningful friendships among college students on campus. Without such students just fall through the cracks socially, tend to become isolated, and often disappear as they become disillusioned with the whole college experience.

These five reasons are the biggest reasons retention efforts among college students are not succeeding and students are withdrawing from college.

The good news is students and professionals desire to attend college. Most of us value and uphold education. The struggles along the way en route to obtaining a college education and further professional development however when a student steps on a college campus can be irritating and downright frustrating.

Retention coordinators and specialists on college campuses therefore need to urgently and wholeheartedly attend to these matters lest they be the next ones standing in the unemployment line, when college students walk out and say they have had enough.