Before delving into the first option, I'd like to state our views on immersing our daughter in debt. Unfortunately we are not in a position to help her with her college education - something which I am sure many of you are familiar with. Therefore, the ultimate choice of college really lies in finding the means of paying for it.
The most common method seems to be the student loan. We (my husband and I) are against loading our daughter up with debt upon graduation for a variety of reasons:
1. Been in debt, done that - not a great way to live. Besides, if she finds her future spouse and they get married and they both have huge loans, that's not a great way to start a marriage, either.
2. Given the current state of the economy and the fact that it doesn't look as if it is going to rebound even in the next couple of years, the stress on everyone of graduating and not being able to find a job and knowing that you have huge loans to pay doesn't seem like the right way to go.
3. Quite frankly, call me paranoid, but we don't particularly want her beholden to the government at this time in history.
That having been said, we're really dependent on scholarships and grants - which may be an option because of our income to number of dependents ratio. With that in mind, we've begun looking into some private four year colleges that are out of state.
The pros to this option seem to lie more in the "experiences gained from living away from home" category. That's why I went away to school, so I can understand that completely. Also, there are some very good Catholic colleges in this country, none (in our opinion) of which are in our state - thus making it a necessity to go away! Ms 17 yo has her eye on two of these colleges so far and they both look like they would provide an awesome experience - both educationally and socially.
The cons of this option, of course, are mostly financial. Unless she were able to get some fabulous scholarships, they are probably out of the question. We'll see how the ACT comes back and then go from there. The only other cons we came up with were how far away they actually were and the fact that we would, of course, all miss her terribly :)
Closely related to this option is the option of a four year college close to home. This would knock off a chunk of money because she could live at home and commute. Again, depending on her test scores, scholarships might cover most of the tuition, thus making this a more affordable option.
On the con side, the colleges we have to choose from that are within commuting distance from our home are either not Catholic or Catholic-in-name-only. This isn't a huge problem as she's been raised very solidly in her faith and we think she could hold her own. However, I've heard some horror stories recently of what is being taught in some of these schools and the garbage that one has to sift through in order to actually learn something of value.
In summary, it seems as if the four year school option, either away or commuting, is dependent on mainly on how it comes out financially. As one family member put it recently, "You go where the money is".
Next time we'll explore the dreaded Junior College sentence, I mean option :)