How To Get Financial Aid Making Multiple Six Figures A Year

Getting financial aid is a common way for students and parents to afford college. This article will share how to get financial aid making multiple six figures a year.

That's right. Even if your family makes multiple six figures a year, you can still get financial aid. That said, not financial aid is created equal. Ideally, you want free money, or grants not loans.

Despite earning a six-figure household income, many parents struggle to pay for their children's education without going into debt. In many big cities, it now requires earning about $300,000 a year to live a middle-class lifestyle. It sounds kind of nuts, but inflation has really made the cost of living more expensive for everyone.

Let's discuss how a family can qualify for tuition assistance despite making $300,000, $400,000, or even $500,000 a year. We can then have a moral discussion about the topic in the comments section!

Wealthy Six-Figure Households And Financial Aid

I was talking to a parent of four who used to send his kids to a private grade school K-8 about the makeup of families who pay $35,000+/year in tuition per child.

I cherished my time growing up in Africa and Asia up until middle school. And enjoyed my experience attending a public high school in Virginia. To have my son attend a homogenous school where everybody looks the same and comes from similar economic backgrounds would be a shame.

The dad mentioned the school tried to diversify its student body through financial aid. When I asked how the school determined which families got financial aid, he said something surprising.

“Households qualify for financial aid if they don't make at least $100,000 a year per child.

In other words, if you have four children, you qualify for financial aid if you make $390,000 a year. Financial aid consists of low interest rate loans, but mostly free grant money. I thought this was a high threshold because $390,000 is right around the top 1% income level in the country.

Nobody needs to send their kids to private school given every child can go to public school for free. Further, I'm not sure if too many folks decide to have four children if they can't afford to raise them. Sure, one or two children may be unplanned. But having four is definitely intentional.

The dad and mom could not afford to continue paying $120,000+ a year in after-tax tuition for their kids. So, they moved their family to the suburbs to attend free public school. Ah hah, at least they decided to take action instead of complain why life was so hard making $500,000 a year!

Financial Aid While Making $500,000 A Year

Despite finding a solution, the dad seemed a little bitter about not being able to get financial aid for his kids because he asked me the following,

Is it better to provide financial assistance to underrepresented minorities and lower income households whose kids have a much higher probability of dropping out after several years at the school because they don't have enough parental support? Or is it more worthwhile to help families like mine who make just over $100,000 a kid, but whose kids will likely graduate from school?

His argument was that social engineering in private school wasn't working. Just like how the lottery system for public schools in San Francisco is arbitrary and a waste of property tax dollars. In San Francisco, living in a neighborhood where you want your kids to go to school gives you no edge.

Graduation Rates Are Important

Part of every private school's wish list is for as many of its students as possible to graduate so the school can score higher marks when rated. The higher the marks, the greater the school´s demand, prestige, and tuition revenue. Further, the more successful the graduate, the higher the donation rate, which over time has grown in importance.

I still believe trying to diversify the student body to better reflect the makeup of the city is a more worthwhile goal than trying to help families who make just over $100,000 a kid, but who all look the same.

The real world is diverse.  If you spend your entire life in an un-diverse bubble, don’t know how to connect with other people and only speak one language, you will have a tougher time getting ahead.

Before taking out the pitchforks, let's take a look at why this $500,000/year family could no longer afford sending their four kids to private school. A recent divorce might also have something to do with it.

Budget Breakdown For A $500,000 Household

Financial Aid For $500,000 A Year Household

Based on a 36% effective tax rate, the couple needs to earn $203,125 a year just to cover the cost of private school tuition for four kids. What I haven't included are the additional givings every family is pressured to offer each year.

Although a $1,700,000 home sounds like a lot, the median home price in San Francisco is $1,500,000. With a six person household, you need at least four bedrooms and preferably three bathrooms. The median house size in San Francisco is closer to three bedrooms, two bathrooms.

Not Many Expenses To Cut

I've gone through the budget in detail. And there is very little left to cut, except for contributing less to their respective 401ks, taking one less vacation a year, and donating less than 2% of their gross income to charity. Expensive cities are expensive!

Even if they donated $0 to charity and spent $0 on vacation, they'd still be $3,620 a year in the hole without lowering their 401k pre-tax contributions.

The problem with this family is that they are not accumulating any liquid savings to pay for any emergency expenses. With six people in the household, something always comes up. In other words, this family was scraping by on $500,000 a year. And now has $130,000+ of breathing room by sending their kids to public school.

If this family is ~$23,620 in the hole each year on a $500,000 household income, then a family making only $390,000 a year is certainly going to be hemorrhaging money if they send their four kids to private school. Let's take a look at their budget.

Why A $390,000 Household Qualifies For Financial Aid

Financial Aid for A $390,000 A Year Household

As you can see from the chart above, even after lowering the student loan debt, donating less to charity, spending less on vacations, and lowering their effective tax rate by 4%, this household is $70,440 in the red every year. From a school administrator's point of view, financial aid is warranted.

Kids Are As Expensive As You Want Them To Be

A quality education is becoming the biggest contention point between the rich and poor. I know many ultra wealthy parents who donate heavily to every level of education to increase their child's chances of getting in. And then there is a whole swath of multiple six figure income parents who feel downright middle class because they can't get any assistance.

The great thing about the internet is that it makes knowledge accumulation free. And when something can be obtained for free, the value of anything that requires payment declines.

For those who like to plan, it's good to realize the $100,000 income per child threshold for financial aid is becoming more common among private grade school and universities today.

If you're making $199,000 a year and have two kids, it might not be worth the extra hours and stress to make $50,000 more. And if you have kids under five, it's probably best to spend as much time with them as possible anyway.

At the same time, if you're making $380,000 a year and are considering adopting a fourth child, knowing you'll be eligible for tuition assistance may make helping a little one easier.

Related Posts About Financial Aid:

Private Or Public School?

Recommended 529 Plan Amounts By Age

The Different Ways To Pay For College

How To Game The College Financial Aid System

Achieve Financial Freedom Through Real Estate

If you are fortunate enough to make multiple six figures a year, you should do your best to invest your savings into income-producing assets. I recommend investing in real estate, my favorite way to achieving financial freedom.

Real estate is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income. By the time I was 30, I had bought two properties in San Francisco and one property in Lake Tahoe. These properties now generate a significant amount of mostly passive income.

In 2016, I started diversifying into heartland real estate to take advantage of lower valuations and higher cap rates. I did so by investing $810,000 with real estate crowdfunding platforms. With interest rates down, the value of cash flow is up. Further, the pandemic has made working from home more common.

Take a look at my two favorite real estate crowdfunding platforms.

Fundrise: A way for all investors to diversify into real estate through private funds with just $10. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and manages over $3.3 billion for 500,000+ investors. 

The real estate platform invests primarily in residential and industrial properties in the Sunbelt, where valuations are cheaper and yields are higher. The spreading out of America is a long-term demographic trend. For most people, investing in a diversified fund is the way to go. 


CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations and higher rental yields. These cities also have higher growth potential due to job growth and demographic trends. 

If you are a real estate enthusiast with more time, you can build your own diversified real estate portfolio with CrowdStreet. However, before investing in each deal, make sure to do extensive due diligence on each sponsor. Understanding each sponsor's track record and experience is vital.

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How To Get Financial Aid Making Multiple Six Figures is a Financial Samurai original post. Make sure if you get financial aid, you get grants. A grant is free money. A loan needs to be paid back with interest.

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114 thoughts on “How To Get Financial Aid Making Multiple Six Figures A Year”

  1. When you say less than $100k per child – what is the child’s age? Or is it as long as the child is your dependent?

  2. I read this extremely long article and I have yet to find out how large income families pays for their kids college tuition. Or aid or loans or grants. What am I missing ??? All I read was different scenarios.

  3. Hi, this article is uncannily close to my current situation! And I’ve just applied for financial aid for the first time which feels embarrassing but necessary, especially facing potential future layoffs.

    I am confused on one major point: how are these families qualifying for aid? I see their net income after expenses is negative but I don’t think they’d be fortunate enough to receive aid, as most schools would expect them to further reduce spending or perhaps split children into a mix or public and private schools.

  4. I have a friend who did exactly this: make hundreds of thousands and have 2 kids in private school for literally free. They built a new house 3 x $$ of their previous house. The previous house was 2 yrs old when they sold it (which was also custom built). Their previous home had 4 bedrooms 3 baths. Their new home has more than 5 beds. They sold their previous house for the simple reason of taking on more debt.

    They just bought a new vehicle. They vacation more than 4 times a year. Those are just the big ticket items. Their day-to-day spending habits will make you roll your eyes as well.

    On the other end, we send 2 kids to private school WITHOUT a dime from financial aid. We are frugal and live in a home that we can afford to pay for. Our car is old, but we do not need to upgrade as we take the bus everywhere (it’s more convenient). We take one vacation every year.

    So what’s wrong with this picture? We are simply stupid for not upgrading to a $5M home in Medina WA. Does anyone else feel the same way?

      1. Couldn’t agree more!!!

        Why on earth should I live frugally and responsibly while others are playing the system? They’re brilliant, and I am finally just catching on.

  5. After much debate with myself, and tons of reading – I did decide to send my daughter to a private HS. Its not easy to have an additional $20K/year expense for parents of 2 kids, living in a city, and checking the price of each food item they buy.

    Financial aid MUST be based on merit. If a poorer (as in parents making $100K in SFO) kid proves to be meritorious, then by all means s/he should be given extra aid over a more meritorious kid but whose parents make $150K in the same city.

    A balance.

    Of need, and merit.

    Without merit based aid, a lot of parents of excellent hard working kids, are treated very unfairly in this system.

  6. I grew up attending both private and public schools in SF. I started out in private school but once my younger brother(I’m the oldest of 3 with my sister being the middle) was going to start kindergarten, my parents did not want to pay tuition for all three of us and decided to transfer us to a public school when I was starting the 5th grade. I went back to private school when I started high school because the public school I was being sent to was rated really low at that time.
    Since I have gone through both, what can I say is private school should set their own rules for financial aid. If they know that the same set of parents have two or more of their kids going to their school, they should provide an income threshold for them to qualify for financial aid. Also because private schools all have different tuition rates so it’s all independent.
    Public schools are great but you need students that are focused on wanting to learn in order for the school to be great. And that depends on the school themselves and if they want to push their students to strive to the best of their abilities.

  7. Brilliant Post Sam! Our family of 3 has this in our futures as there are several private schools in our area with tuition at roughly $25k/yr with many well to do families receiving aid. Our plan is to scale back and be in the $150-$200k/yr range thus reducing our tuition bill by 1/3 to 1/2! The schools actually post a grid that shows fin aid per income level. Luckily they don’t count total liquid assets at this level, so we are just playing the game!! This way we can summer/winter and spend more time together as a family.

    Also, what we’ve found is that “Acceptance” into these schools is a more challenging issue than most families financial concerns about tuition prices. For example, I’ve seen these schools value “Legacies, High contributing families, sibling students and staff students” more highly than underrepresented and underprivileged minorities. This is coming from a well to do minority family who routinely witnesses the actual recruitment of “Legacies, High contributing families, etc.” versus the minority crowd. Gotta pay the bills! The only thing I’ve noticed is that some schools seem somewhat relieved to know that we are not planning for financial aid initially so maybe we are a better “social class” fit. Also in terms of increased diversity, I was told by several heads of school that it’s the request of the incoming white “Millennial” crowd!

    But fear not, increased diversity usually indicates 1 or 2 underrepresented minorities per class of 20 kids with two supervising teachers. So, while diversity isn’t everyone’s “thing” it’s such a small addition, what’s the big deal??

    For example, ONCE a YEAR you see someone who was just recently a victim of a severe beat down through no fault of their own. Wouldn’t you give them a hand up? How about if you knew another beat down was around the corner for this person, would you then give them a hand up and direct them in the other direction? I understand some people would walk past and others would give a hand.

    That’s no different than what some minorities and others deal with on a daily basis only because they were born with the “skin color ” or “sexual preference” issue which puts them in a path of vary biases from all levels (peers, judicial system, education, etc.). My only ask is that “Some” people can be sensitive to this situation. Also, if you’re “FOR” aid for lower income then by default you’re probably “FOR” diversity as well! This is just based on stats and systemic oppression that has depressed the progress of many minorities (aka Jim Crow laws, post war benefits that went to “White ONLY” veterans, redlined communities that affected wealth accumulation, criminal justice, etc.). Am I wrong?

    1. Actually, in the present society you are completely wrong. We’re it 20-30 years ago I would say you’ve definitely hit the nail on the head for the privileged rich crowd being targeted for recruitment into these high end schools, but that has completely changed now due to people’s efforts to change those in charge over time. The problem is those change agents, who initially had good intentions, have now gone entirely too far and the shoe is now on the other foot! Everything you’re claiming here is the polar opposite of what is truly happening now, but you’ve listened to the propaganda for sooooooo long that you can’t even open your eyes to see that the change you had hoped for happened, and is now done! Those schools that you’re claiming make more money off privileged children now receive more federal dollars for diversifying and underprivileged children than they do from straight paying people! Also, minorities need to stop mixing gay and trans issues in with racial issues, because you are doing no service to the religious private schools out there where a lot of parents like to send there kids to try and stave off the drug infestation of public schools. Religious schools have to abide by Gods law, and not the governments, and that means not catering to a 16 year old boy that has decided he wants to wear a dress and look like a girl! The rules have always been that those kids will be removed, period! I have watched the world change drastically in my 49 years on this earth, but I’ve also seen an entire generation of people grow up without the racial overtones that I did. I remember one of my sons coming up to me when he was 5 years old and telling me he was playing with “that brown boy” at the skating rink because he didn’t even know to call him black! That would be because race is not something talked about in our house, ever! I never taught my 3 boys the racist terms I was taught in the 70’s, as I’m sure millions of other white households have done in modern times! Can you say the same for black households? Or are they still taught at a young age that whites are keeping them down, or whites are evil, or whites hate them? I have close black friends, and they’ve told me how they were brought up, so you can’t fool me into believing you weren’t brought up that way. I’ve said enough here, and could continue, but I’m sure you’ve already labeled me a racist even though that’s far from reality. True racism is the hatred of another solely based on their skin color. Most claims of racism come no where near that definition. I just tell the truth unlike a lot of the white guilt people out there these days.

  8. Achieving a doctorate/professional degree that allows me to work 3 days/week without call or weekends has offered me great balance, although the trade-off did stymy advancement professionally. I agree with the other parents in that teenagers need you constantly, just less obviously. They learn to “check in” in different ways as they mature. Knowing my husband and I are consistently here for them has paid off in spades. We are a blended family of five children, and my husband is an airline pilot who travels 50% of the time. I have had to learn to go with the flow. You cannot plan for everything–in fact, the older children resent it if you try. Be yourself, enjoy your unusual financial flexibility, and enjoy the ride!

  9. Precious @Lovenancials

    Like someone said! There are some factors that should be considered for a family earning $500, 000 a year. LIKE

    •Where they live: are they living in an expensive or low expensive environment.

    •Cost of expenses: are things in such area extremely cheap or expensive.

    This should be considered before giving financial aid and Hey! It still shouldn’t be higher than those earning less than $500,000 monthly.

    Sam, nice analysis!

  10. I see it as one big algorithm:

    Financial aid = f(academic merit, parental income normalized to COL, legacy assistance)

    The less your parent(s) make, and/or the less legacy assistance you get, the more aid you get.

    The more you’ve achieved academically, the more aid you get.

    I’m not keen on looking at the balance sheet. Just because one’s parents choose to take on more debt shouldn’t make you more likely to get financial aid. Perhaps a more elaborate algorithm for extenuating circumstances like health expenses, temporary job loss, etc.

    I don’t think the government should do more for families who choose to have lots of kids.

  11. Every time I read a post on your site about people making couple hundred thousands dollars a year living in a city with high costs of living, I ask myself: how in the world they manage to spend so much money for such an average life? In my country – Poland – you can live a life so nice or even better with a fraction of a fraction of such an income. I used to be jealous of Americans and your income and living in the USA, but the more I get to know to your reality the more grateful I am for being Polish.

    1. Indeed. Living in expensive cities require expensive incomes.

      The key is to make your money, and then relocate to a lower cost area for a better life. Maybe we’ll come to Poland during the summers!

  12. You forget that living in or near a WORLD CLASS CITY is in itself a luxury. It is a luxurious choice and comes with a high price because of its benefits. Two competent parents can easily move and live more simply. They do not have to live in San Francisco in a 1.7 million dollar house. That is and always will be a choice. Full stop. No sympathy from me when you can walk to great coffee shops and restaurants and stores, and have access to world class cultural events and amenities within minutes. I’ve lived in Manhattan and know the benefits — it is absolutely a luxury and should be treated as such. Jobs do not only exist in one place — maybe the best one in the field, but talented people have no problem finding decent jobs in less expensive areas, and possibly saving more when all is said and done (esp like CA vs TX tax).

    Additionally, 4 kids in private school at once at 32k is pretty steep — what kind of school district is this 1.7 million dollar house in? Most districts I know (east coast) correspond with housing prices, i.e. public schools are better where houses cost more and more property tax to said school, plus parent involvement etc. Why would a family of 6 buy a house that costs 1.7 million in a crappy district when they have school aged kids? That just doesn’t seem reasonable when that annually costs them over $200k pretax for private. Shifted over as a mortgage payment, they could afford approx 5mil house in a great district (public). I can’t imagine such capable parents could make such a silly decision when most upper middle or upper class people absolutely congregate in good school districts via expensive housing.

    Also, no designer threads and a reasonable car is fine, but 1.7k a month on food for 6 is ridiculous unless they eat out all the time. If the kids are in school, they likely either eat free (private schools provide lunch), or pay around $3 or pack a lunch, also under <$3 a day. A family of 6 would shop at Costco (they'd have room to store in their 1.7million dollar home, and the actual need to buy in bulk), and Costco has a plurality of high income shoppers with excellent quality. Most well to do people I know shop there without shame. Even with mostly organic and lots of frozen convenience foods, you can't get to 1.7k a month without multiple $100 bottles of wine or $250 date nights. Food cost per person ($10 is reasonable for adults who eat out some and eat well), but generally trends down with more people. I've moved from the San Diego area about 6 months ago, and I remember California produce being as cheap as it gets, and Costco meats remaining the same as everywhere else in the country. Any family with 4 kids will have a range of ages, and all private schools I know of cover lunch in tuition.

    1. The funny thing is, even if you put zero dollars for food cost a month, it’s not going to make that big of a difference in their budget. Go to focus on the biggest ticket items. But the fact is, everybody needs to eat, so the cost will never be zero.

      1. I am the father in a family of 6 in Denver, Colorado and I track our grocery shopping expenses monthly (with the small note that we include any beer/wine in this category, too). Let me state that these figures are pretty spot on, and we spend that much OUTSIDE of any restaurant dining. In 2017 we have spent average of $1826/month on food/bevs from grocery stores. That includes shopping at Walmart, Sams Club, and King Soopers. My wife loves to cook and we do entertain on occasion which surely boots the total some months (Like thanksgiving).

        1. Spot on with the estimate. We are a family of 4 in Seattle proper and it’s very similar (interpolated for 4 instead of 6).

    2. That is untrue. My kids attend private school and pay for their own lunch. Every private school in our city of 300,000 do not provide lunch. Have you ever raised teenage boys? They eat A LOT. One teenage boy can go through a gallon of milk in 1-2 days. If the other three kids are also teenage boys, that’s over 10 gallons of milk a week. And that’s just milk–nothing fancy like smoothies or probiotic drinks.

  13. I went to public school and my husband went to public school and we were pretty happy with our education. We are thinking about moving to Hawaii and we’ve been chatting to locals, locals with children who grew up in Oahu etc. Most of the people we talked to recommended private school (specifically Punahou) for high school (or after grade 9) because they said the public high schools are not as good here.

    If you end up in HNL, maybe our sons will be classmates in 14 years ;)

  14. A Recent College Grad

    I think the biggest flaw with today’s Higher Education System is the idea that parents are responsible for putting their son or daughter through four years at university. I disagree completely! With few exceptions, at age 18 we possess most of the rights and responsibilities of an adult. This includes making the decision to invest in higher education. I chose to invest in a four year college degree which cost me about 80k all said and done. My return on investment is a starting salary of 80k, which in the Midwest isn’t bad. As a parent, its still import to support and guide your child, but financially they need to be let go.

    Before college, I had no concept of money. It took until two years ago when I had 60k of debt racked up staring me in the face. Comparing it to my intern hourly wages, I instantly learned to respect money. I learned the importance of saving (in this case paying off debt). I learned that life is hard and needed to step up my game (high school tactics no longer work). I grew an appreciation for the little things in life. But most of all, I learned what I value most in life: a strong work ethic.

    I know I’m in the minority advocating to pay for my own college, but it pays dividends. With regards to financial aid, if a school wants to charge you 70k a year (cough** University of Chicago), laugh and walk away. Thats a big waist of money. A 20k a year school is just as good because the end product is you, not the university. You define your own path and can make as much or as little out of it as you want.

    1. I Like that. The end product is you and not the University.

      I’m thinking two years of college in the future is good enough. There’s so much for the information and a faster consumption of information now thanks to the Internet, do we really need to spend four years of college and be 22 years old to get a job?

      1. A Recent College Grad

        Sam, I completely agree. An associates degree is the biggest bang for your buck. Two years time and 10k investment (community college) for a starting salary of 50k. Thats 5x returns out the gate! Right now we’re having trouble finding people with this level of education in a technical skill set at my company. Everyone is under the impression that you need a full four year university degree to be successful in life. While that may be true for some professions, there is so much opportunity with just an associates degree.

        This is just my opinion, but I think today’s universities are making themselves uncompetitive in post graduate education. Why would a company spend thousands of dollars for one employee to take a single class? My company has purchased licenses for online education platforms like It costs less, the courses are focused on the specific information we need, and we can take them at any time.

  15. Dood, el Farbe

    While not a large line item, the “food for six (date night every two weeks)” really struck me as excessive for its context.

    They’re spending circa $860 per meal on these date nights?

    1. Spending $1700 a month for six people including date nights seems reasonable to me. Less than $10/day per person. But maybe that’s why Americans are so overweight. How much do you spend a month on food? Do you have a very low BMI?

      1. Dood, el Farbe

        Sam, I’m sure that my family of 6 spends well over 1K per month on food (we eat a lot of fresh tuna, etc).

        However, this particular line item was specifically for nights OUT, once per each two weeks. NOT monthly food for the household.

        And it comes out to ~ $860 per each of those biweekly meals.

        Finally, WTF does my BMI have to do with anything in the context of why this family is (apparently) spending $700 a meal every two weeks?

        I frankly can’t understand why you would ask that question in this context.

        But if it REALLY DOES matter to you, it’s right about 20.


        But you have seriously crossed a line here.

        1. Sorry for offending you with the BMI question. It was a joke because it’s hard to live off less than $10 a day now for food.

          I’m not sure why we are arguing about the amount. It says “Food for SIX” in the first column, and $1,717/month in the last column. Further, there is no other row for the Food line item. We don’t need to debate the meaning of what Food for Six (date night every 2 weeks) means because I created the chart. And I’m telling you $1,717/month is total food expenditure for six, including the mom and dad going out twice a week for date nights.

          You are the first person to think the food for six only means money spent on dates twice a week. But since you have, it is my fault it is not clear, because my intention is to leave no reader behind. Therefore, I will include the word “includes” in (includes date night every 2 weeks) to make it more clear.

          1. I really commend you for taking the time to explain a clearly obvious description of how much they spend on food total, even after you explained in your previous comment that the $1,700+ was for food for six people. You have the patience of a monk and it’s obvious you care.

            I see why some bloggers can get very frustrated and just ignore all commenters. I also see why some teachers hate their jobs because some kids may have learning disabilities, don’t pay attention, or are simply slow. And if you try to provide a hint or ask them anything, they get offended.

            1. Thanks. You really got to love what you do to last. But at the same time, you’ve got to focus on the most important things to make sure time and effort is optimized.

              What I’ve learned is that what may seem obvious to one, may not seem obvious to another. So if I can’t get a basic message across, then I am failing as a writer. There is a reason why newspapers, for example, try to write in sixth grade English.

  16. I am confused about how the education system works in the US so I don’t really understand the problem that this person has.
    Where I live you get 3 types of scolarships:
    1. you are smart so the state will invest in you to go to college.
    2. you are poor but still good enough to get into highschool (highschools have entrance exams here) – the state will invest in you (you get scholarships for highschool and college and free accomodation).
    3. you are part of one particular minority with traditional poor results in school because of historical reasons, so the state will give your parents incentives to keep you in school past 8th grade.

    It all boils down to this: if you’re good we want you to learn more, because you’ll produce more taxes in the future. If you’re poor we want you to have the same chances as everyone else, but only if you have the same qualifications as everybody else. If you’re part of a poor performing minority, we will try to ensure that your parents poor education record do not impact your shot at getting a better life. The last is one area where we’re not exactly doing great, but we’re trying at least.

    If you’re rich enought to go to a private school, then you’re on your own as far our society is concerned.

      1. Eastern Europe. Not the best place, but comunists did some things right. And many wrong things :)

  17. Damn Millennial

    Very interesting read. Unbelievable the problems we have in America to worry about. I can’t give a fair opinion on this yet as someone who does not have kids. I think that the greatest education a parent can give to their kid is to being a shining example of a human being.

    I went to school in a terrible school district and got kicked out for half a year….yet somehow I figured out how to live. I flew half way across the world living on my own dime at 18 and then came back to the states and went to school and graduated with honors. I certainly didn’t attend a top tier school and no doubt it hurt my job prospects but this is America! One of my finance professors was a great guy from India. He told us his friend called him and said he had to get to America because the streets were paved with gold.

    If you are willing to work hard you can make it out of any situation…no doubt about it though a fantastic education propels you ahead of the herd, but you can’t teach street smarts or character.

    My 2 cents.

  18. Is it better to be a top student in a public school or a medium student in a private school?

    If you are smart in public you will be in the advanced/ap classes and not around morons.

    You will be towards the top of your class and get into a good school. There you will be around other smart kids and be motivated to get a good job.

  19. My kids are Puerto Rican….second most under represented group in higher education behind native Americans. Best believe we’ll be checking the box. Granted we make >> 100k per child but the point is diversity. Diversity man. You can’t be against diversity. It’s for the kids. And the future. And the environment. I used to be against affirmative action and alternative diversity requirements but I now see the light. People try to use logic and a sense of fairness but then I just call them a racist.
    What’s good for the goose.

    1. Very cool. Didn’t know Puerto Ricans are that rare. I enjoyed my time in PR and have a couple PR friends I hit with. One actually donated $10 million after the hurricane! Sadly, I don’t know any Native Americans.

      Not sure if you will get financial aid making over $100K/child, but you can try.

    2. Dynx,
      I’m floored by your comments.

      “People try to use logic and a sense of fairness but then I just call them a racist.
      What’s good for the goose.”

      Fairness *is* treating the goose the same as the gander, to use your words. Ya see the problem there?

      Diversity is great, diversity of experiences, thought and opinion are absolutely wonderful. Forced diversity is not true diversity, it’s a quota. Before ya rant on me… ex hiring manager, team had black, chinese, white, british, indian, male, female, hispanic, canadian, hebrew. We hired based on talent not citizenship, sex or the color of your skin. When it came layoff time, same thing, low performers had to go, did not matter what they looked like. I asked to be laid off to save one of my team members jobs and was denied.

      Would you have offered your job so another human could keep theirs?

      “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – MLK

      Let’s judge by character, integrity and yes talent, not physical attributes.

      1. EV driver:
        I hear you. That would be fantastic but that’s not the world we live in.
        If hiring and firing and educational opportunities were out there based on ability alone I’d be happy with that.
        They are not.
        So you take the advantages you have. Minority status is a plus. I’m going to take that plus. Some other kid can write a personal statement about how hard it is to grow up poor. Good for him/her.
        When I said “what’s good for the goose” I was referring to a society as a whole that looks at non-related factors when filing out educational opportunities and aid. If the prevailing judgement is that performance alone doesn’t make someone the “best for the job” then who am I to argue?

  20. Good grief! Living in the US is defiantly very pricy, just looking over your spending plan, the amount you spend on health care a month is madness!
    Thankfully we have the NHS in the UK.

  21. That’s surprising to hear on his qualifying for financial aid making multiple six figures. Goes to show how beneficial it is to truly know the details of what actually qualifies for the schools you want your kids to go to. I wouldn’t have guessed that at all before reading this post. I’m also pro diversity and hope more private schools open their doors to a wider pool of kids through scholarships and financial aid.

  22. WOW! Sounds a lot like our situation here in NJ. Combined income approximately $350,000. 2 in college and 1 in high school. Lost our home to foreclosure and had a car repossessed. This is without private schools, a rare vacation and no retirement funds. Biggest money eaters in our house are medical insurance (no job coverage), rent, car insurance on 4 cars, cell phones, 3 car payments and 2 student loans (still paying ours off). We live paycheck to paycheck with no savings, no assets, nothing! We are forever in the red and do not receive financial aid other than the government loans my 2 college ones needed.

  23. Few thoughts…

    1. The school can do whatever they want to. Perhaps the person is a former president or CEO of a major corporation so the school offers them an incentive to attend.

    2. $500K is a lot of money so that guy has some pretty big balls to even ask for financial aid. I don’t have much empathy for him regardless of how many kids he has. Can’t say I blame him for trying though.

    3. I don’t agree with making low income AND minority the proposed criteria for financial aid. It seems like just low income would be the criteria. I don’t think we should unfairly give special treatment to anyone based on their race.

    1. I just got our fafsa back and I knew we wouldn’t qualify, but any merit aid requires you to fill out this form (why?). I guess if they run out of merit aid, they base it on income! Well, we make over 200k, so we are responsible for 85k a year and no subsidized loans. Basically, it’s going to hurt us to even let them know how much we make. We did not come from money, but my husband is a type A who is very energetic. What gets me is how much we give up – there are a lot of things that are truly subsidized that we never qualify for (medical – we pay 18k year, education, legal, tax relief – capped state and property tax, AMT, etc). That basically lowers our standard of living quite a bit. Of course, we still have a little more leeway than some, but is there something wrong with enjoying your own salary?

  24. I fully expected to see an article about how to fool the FAFSA or other need based calculator using some sketchy accounting treatments when i saw this hit my inbox at 2:30am. Glad i took the time to understand it. It was a well balanced article that made me a little more sympathetic to the plight of the SF rat race. Still, hard to conjure up TOO much sympathy for this scenario. I think the overwhelming takeaway is that we all want our kids to have better than we did, we all face financial pressures, and the grass isn’t always greener. Nice article Sam.

    1. I actually never thought about going that angle with this article. Most six-figure income earners make their money from W-2 income, therefore, it’s hard to manipulate. Besides, it seems too shady.

      I am fascinated about the last bastion where the wealthy cherish the most: education.

      I wonder why the richest schools continue to pander to the richest families when they don’t need more money. Academia does not pay very well, so you would think that they would be more pro helping lower income households and underrepresented minorities get an education.

      I also want people to just know what to expect when it comes to financial aid and work. The rat race is a killer. Hopefully people can find a better balance.

      Thanks for reading

      1. Per your theory on why the wealthy still cherish education; I believe its a uniquely American attitude – we value the individual innovator, the single man/woman that controls their own destiny. Thus elite colleges are one way those born into wealth can draw a rationalization between their good fortune(hitting the genetic lottery) and their direct efforts. “I went to Harvard, I earned my spot!”. This attitude cuts the other way; nothing like the shame of never having to lift a finger and having everything given to you to embarrass you amongst the 99%. Some elite rich can care less, but most people have a need to prove themselves.

        1. I disagree that it’s a uniquely American attitude. People from other countries, especially those from developing countries may value education just as much if not more. Because they know that it is their best chance to get ahead and have a better life than their parents. I am one of those people and know of many others.

          1. Absolutely, but this half baked theory of mine is specific to why the wealthy elite value elite education. Education and hard work are great equalizers, but if you’re already ahead you really don’t need an equalizer. My point was only that the wealthy elite still seem to greatly value the “equalizers” that they don’t need. There’s a rational disconnect there. In the US you also see it here when billionaires run for public office. Why, when you’ve attained so much, would you choose to become a bureaucrat is beyond my understanding. It goes to show that POWER is a currency that can’t always be bought – similar to elite education – a currency that cannot be bought.

            Eh, who am i kidding, with enough money it can all be bought.

  25. Anyway, I wish all people well. I firmly believe that real change occurs from the Bottom up, not top down. I also don’t believe we should give up on people. We need to be more creative in the approach to these problems. Both sides.

  26. Don’t schools look at Net Worth as well?

    I can manage my income down to the bare minimum, be heavily cash flow negative for a few years but still have several $mil positive NW.

      1. On the FAFSA you have to list all of your non-retirement assets which include college savings plans and 529’s. It is an aggregate number. Then, they apply a formula for needs based education. Income is factored in as well.

  27. This is total white whine. It’s ridiculous. Stop complaining and make it work. A lot of people make a ton less money than that and they survive.
    I prefer to give minorities and lower income households the financial aids. They are the ones that need it. Diversity helps. It opens up your world view which gives you more options. More options is good in my book.
    Anyway, why have 4 kids if you can’t afford to send them all to private school. Go have a vasectomy so they don’t have a 5th kid.
    Sorry for the rant. It’s Monday…

    1. I agree with that but the kids have to be able to handle the work. In some cases, they can. In many cases though, they cannot. Aid in of itself is not a cure all for the world’s ills.

      1. I hope the financial aid goes to an extinguishing student, of course. There are a few smart poor kids out there.

    2. Why have kids if you can’t afford to send them all to private school? Why have kids if you can’t afford them. Period.
      I came from a low-income household myself (and descendant of slave families, but I’m majorly whitewashed now). I worked my way through, never receiving a dime, now I get to subsidize others. I’m not in the 1%, but was hoping to enjoy some of our own money before we get too old (mom got sick pretty young).
      Basically you are saying that high earners should be cut down to size. How dare they have any more than others.

  28. Readers, what are your thoughts about being eligible for financial aid when earning multiple six figures a year? Should financial aid be focused more on underrepresented minorities and lower income families instead? What do you think the right income per kid threshold is when financial aid kicks in? Should the government do more to subsidize parents who decide to have a lot of kids?

    Hard to empathize with a household making $500k+, but after looking at the budget above, not much is really outrageous. It’s admirable they spend so much on their kids education, given they save ~$50k in liquid investments annually on a $500k income (though I suppose net worth may be a bit higher from the college savings and principal paydown), but barely 15-20% max in total net worth improvements on such a massive income! I imagine two professionals in higher ed, medicine, law, finance, etc., could comfortably make the move to LA, Houston, Seattle, Dallas, Chicago, etc., and find comparable jobs (at least in those fields) even if they have to take 20% pay cuts to get there. Getting into decent public school districts and also getting that housing cost down (even if only modestly to ~$1m from $1.7m) could make a HUGE improvement in their financial picture. Imagine nothing else changing…
    $400k gross, $43k 401k/hsa, $357k pretax, same effective rate of 36%, so now $228k aftertax. $316k in expenses – $130k tuition leaves = $186k in total expenses, and BOOM, just found $40k. Haha. But I also see the dilemma, working so hard to find the golden job/firm/city and having to give that up just to save another 10%… who knows, too practical?

    However, despite all the “fairness” debate… schools can do whatever they like. If they need to maintain a balance of wealthy families to fund operations and growth (good teachers, facilities, programs, etc.), then it certainly makes sense to provide incentives in some balance across the board.

  29. But the top colleges also spend a lot of money attracting affluent students, most obviously through lavish accommodations and facilities. They also try to draw such students in more direct ways, such as through merit aid, which offers financial inducements to applicants with strong academic credentials but who may not even need such assistance.

    This is a trend that has been analyzed by Stephen Burd at New America. His conclusion is that in a free market, merit aid has become a discount used to attract the “right kind” of student — the kind with parents who can pay full tuition. In the 1990s, as Burd tells it, some institutions realized that they could steal good, wealthy applicants away from others by offering them modest amounts of financial aid (about $2,000-$5,000 a year). At first, this worked. The colleges would throw out some breadcrumbs and attract wealthy students who basically paid full price. The problem is that this practice inevitably became an arms race. There are now many websites helping to find the colleges with the juiciest merit-aid packages. The more colleges spend on merit-aid packages, which typically go to more-affluent students, the fewer resources are available to support those with greater financial needs.


  30. If you’re disciplined, and your local public school is safe and staffed with competent teachers, then your local public school has all you need to learn. When you open a math book, that book doesn’t give a rat’s ass if your eyes belong to the rabble or the elite. Nor does that book care if it’s opened in dreary bedroom with a funky smell or in a palatial study stuffed with books resting in mahogany bookshelves. That book won’t discriminate. It will disgorge its wisdom to whomever opens it.

    1. First time poster and long time reader. I would like to respectfully disagree with this sentiment having gone through this situation with our child. Public schools are not equipped to handle highly gifted students.

      The curriculum needs to be accelerated and compacted to handle the different way the gifted student learns. Without this, behavioral issues such as underperformance and acting out in class do occur. There are instances of schools disciplining gifted students for answering too many questions and not allowing others to take their time to answer. It’s a problem both for the gifted child and the rest of the students in the class.

      It took us a while to give up on the notion of public schools providing the support gifted students need. When telling the public schools teachers we were leaving for private gifted education, they all said we were doing the right thing.

      1. Interesting feedback. I remember there being the “Gifted & Talented” classes in public school, and of course the higher level math and science classes and the AP classes. Are those not challenging enough? I took several AP classes, including AP English and AP History and found them very difficult to do well in.

        Did your child get straight A’s throughout? When did s/he get pulled from public and go to private? Thanks!

        1. I second what smj says. Long time reader and this is the first time I disagreed with something you wrote.

          Look into Facebook pages or discussion boards to see for yourself.

          First, gifted education often doesn’t start until 3rd or even 5th grade. By then your highly gifted child will be the class clown or withdraw due to lack of engagement. Sometimes they get straight As, sometimes they think they will be more popular to get things wrong, often they ace the tests and don’t do the homework.

          Second, when gifted education starts it is usually too little too late. Either a one hour a week augmentation, or a one day a week pull-out. The best districts have gifted schools but even those are limited at the differentiation and acceleration they can provide.

          All of these issues are well before high school.
          Look at the statistics of when kids disengage. You’ve lost most of them by 3rd or 4th grade.

          Likely you will see for yourself in a couple years.

          1. Good to know. I’ve read several books on parenting so far. What do you recommend and how old are your kids? I’m almost done reading John Medina’s Brain Rules.

            If kids disengage by the 3rd or 4th grade, what is the solution? Why don’t more parents stay at home to engage their son instead of work or all?

            How do you determine whether your kids turn out OK as adults?

            I’ve read a lot of message boards, and the common themes I’ve found is: 1) every kid is different, 2) more time with kids is better than less time, 3) and parents are extremely biased in what way they think is the best way.

            BTW: what exactly are you disagreeing with me on?


        2. Middle of 3rd grade. The disengagement that msyn mentioned below as well as a dislike of the repetitive nature of public school work were two of the factors in our decision. When your child tells you that they are zoning out because the teacher is repeating a lesson that they already know or they are unhappy with having to do math fact practice over and over again even though they answer the questions in 2 seconds flat, that’s a problem.

          There is unfortunately the idea that the “bright” kids have it easy. However, most research we’ve read points to the opposite. Unless properly stimulated, they suffer in standard public schools. High academic standard public schools that can differentiate curriculum work to some extent, however, at the end of the day, public schools need to show that as many students are passing the standardized tests as possible to show the effectiveness of their work. That, rightfully so, leads to a lot of the teachers’ focus being on bringing up the students who are struggling. There doesn’t seem to be enough resources to meet the needs of both ends of the spectrum.

          1. So in a way, the dimmer your kid, the more value your kid is getting out of public school then.

            I wonder though, what age can we safely assess whether our child is brighter or dimmer. Further, I don’t think the ability to learn more or differently goes away so soon.

            Trying out a local public school for several years and seeing if it works before switching over to a private school to see if that works sounds like a viable plan.

            I like the idea of going to community college for two years, and then switching over to A four-year university as well.

      2. Smj:
        Private schools aren’t all that great either. At lower levels they tend to focus on homework and assignments. They reward make work. Several students in grade school do poorly due to this. Why do 50 math problems you allready know the answer to? Why write a report on a terrible book with garbage information. Homework/assignments don’t get turned in and the student suffers because they find better use of their time. That is what I have seen anyway. Even private schools seem to reward effort over real intellect. The solution is to move up the chain. Elite college prep and universitities tend to transition to rewarding actual ability.

      3. A lot of parents confused gifted with your kid actually isn’t special and acts out because he’s a not so great kid. My aunt believed my cousin was gifted because he didn’t pay attention and got C’s, so needed a more challenging environment in order to be motivated to learn. I wonder what it would mean if he got D’s? It is possible your child is going to struggle in life because he lacks internal will. That is what you should cultivate. If you need a special snowflake environment to strive for greatness, you’re not that great. Greatness blooms in any and all environments, including adversity. If he doesn’t have the will to self-motivate no matter how slow his school is going, he is establishing a habit pattern for the future already and showing his true personality. The programmers who don’t need to be told to learn new code or stay current (no teacher overwatch) will get the best paying jobs.

        I may not have taken certain AP classes in high school, but it didn’t stop me from getting the books from the library and taking the exam from independent study for college application resume building. My district may not have had gifted and talented classes to my level, so I approached the high school principal and walked from middle to high school for certain classes, and did independent studies in later high school years with a local college professor. If your child is truly gifted and at all motivated, he will find a way to excel. He will continue to strive even if not challenged for the 7 hours a day he is in school. One day there will be no teacher to tell your child how far he should read each day or what they will learn this quarter, and it will be on him to show his boss he can lead the pack and get the promotion above his peers. Willpower probably accounts for more of the success than we give credit.

        1. I like your viewpoint. Finding a way to strive in any environment is a great attribute. However, I’m not sure how much kids now before the sixth grade or whatever.

          And perhaps the environment leading up to Building willpower/grit when older plays a great deal in developing grit.

          I know seeing difficult things made me try harder because I didn’t want Experience bad stuff myself or go through bad stuff again as an adult. If everything was nice and Rosy growing up, i’m not sure how much How determined I would be to just go out on my own.

      4. Nuclear Real Estate

        I actually lived through the opposite experience. Went through private K-8 where I dealt with all the issues you describe with public schools. Then went to public high school where I was allowed to skip a grade in math and then take 2nd yr calculus and organic chemistry at local university my senior year (tuition was paid by the state).

        All ended up allowing me to graduate college in 3 yrs with two engineering degrees while playing varsity sports.

        It’s not about public vs private, it’s about individual schools and their approach to learning.

    2. There is your clue – “discipline.” Some kids with minor disabilities like ADD need smaller classes (instead of medication). Our local school does not believe in homework and the trends there include a lot of body modification. When I volunteered at the public school for the disabled classroom, they forced a child with severe down’s syndrome to attend sex ed (I chaperoned him because he can’t speak, read or talk). What kind of atmosphere do you think I prefer for my kid? BTW we live in the suburbs.

  31. I have to agree with Tom here. I am fine with everyone but I don’t think “diversity” helps a person get ahead. To me, the key ingredient for success is resilience. Can you get off the mat after taking a hit and keep forging ahead? It has zero to do with diversity. However, I do like to know all different types of people and I find their stories interesting. However, having it shoved in someone’s face won’t work long term.

    As for fin aid, colleges do this all the time now. It is simply called tuition discounting. They create scholarships and give the affluent a break on tuition by applying on of these. I know this because 2 colleges just did this for my daughter. The bottom line is that colleges want kids from good schools who have demonstrated that they can handle course work. That doesn’t mean that we give up on needs based financial aid. I think it is in society’s best interest to create the proper conditions where people can can ahead and improve their circumstances. In the end, the parents play the critical role.

    1. OK, you are in favor of providing the dad and mom who makes $500,000 a year financial aid to his four kids over a much poorer family or underrepresented minority. What do you think is the right income threshold?

      I’m fascinated with hearing more arguments in favor of the Dad. Hopefully more readers will keep them coming in this post as it matures. Please provide some background too. Thanks.

      1. That isn’t what I said. I specifically stated that we should NOT give up on needs based aid. It is in my post. However, I completely understand why aid is given in other situations. To be frank about it, most of the kids in those circumstances cannot handle the course work. Why? Because in the majority of cases (not all) the parents have done a poor job of teaching those skills to their children. Money has been thrown at this issue in the hundreds of billions and has not worked. Period.

        However, I am for needs based aid for children who show true potential and I do believe that it is OK to bend a little on the academic requirements for a kid who will work hard to overcome. However, when I went to college, I literally took a couple of courses my freshman year with a few kids who couldn’t read. Yes, could not read. They didn’t graduate. They didn’t come close. I think only 1 made it to their sophomore year. I know from talking to one of them (who was a good guy) that they didn’t pay tuition.

        I don’t mean to sound jaded on this issue but I have seen it up close. In the ideal world, the measures taken would have worked. They haven’t.

        1. Ah, my misunderstanding. I was hoping to get more arguments from readers for financial aid for multiple six figure earners and learning why.

          I agree with you that schools can’t do it alone. Parenting seems to be the huge X factor here. Some research say nurture makes up about 50% of a child’s academic progress, aptitude, and general well-being. Therefore, there needs to be more than just money involved.

          Related: Man Up Dads!

      2. Thanks rutleyh

        In regards to financial aid, it should absolutely be about needs and have nothing to do with race. In your attempt to create what politicians call “fairness” you have now made the environment unfair for everyone else. Just because there is an underrepresented minority, why should they receive special treatment?

        In my dorm, I had a few students next to me who were on minority scholarships whose parents were doctors making a lot of money meanwhile my under 50K household received 0 scholarships. How is that fair? And trust me, I was a good student and read through the big book of scholarships and didn’t find much.

        1. I don’t think it’s just about one, but a combination. Of course a school is not going to give free money to a wealthy underrepresented minority. I’m sure it might happen in a very few number of cases, but certainly not the majority. I think the majority get too hung up on thinking this way and then extrapolates it to everything.

        2. So your anger regarding helping other people all stems from college where you thought you got the short end of the stick, yet you still went to the same college.

          What are these scholarship folks doing now their lives? I think that would be the true indicator to see whether helping them worked or not.

  32. Differentiation

    Your tax rate is way low. There is the federal health surcharge and AMT to ensure no deductions are taken. My tax dollar was higher than this and my w2 was way less.

    Also the private schools by me are very diverse. Why do you make the assumption that private school means homogenous?

    Also people who are saying “why not do public school- it’s free” – there is something you need to understand. Some of us in private school used to be you. My kids are easy going, self motivated, love to learn. I thought they’d do great in public school. But public school still teaches to the lowest common denominator. There is no acceleration until 3rd grade. My kid started pulling out chunks of his hair in 1st grade because he was bored to tears and told to sit still and not work on his own. Why are schools so hung up about age? This is school, not a daycare. My kid has a right to learn something new. Anything. I tried to work with the public school. I don’t want to be paying for a private school. But my kids now love learning again. They are so happy.

    I think it is criminal that we don’t allow kids to learn at the rate they need to. And it infuriates me when people assume that I have been doing flashcards since birth or that I’m pushing my kids. I feel like I am holding on to the leash of a cheetah. I am proud of my kids for what they are doing, but I am certainly not responsible for it. Not all kids learn at the same rate.

    Its like shoes. Some kids feet are bigger. they go through spurts at different times. In first grade you can’t only supply size 1 shoes. Some kids grew out of size 1 shoes years ago and some are still in toddler sizes. Every kid deserves to learn.

    1. Got it. When I put in my original chart a 40% effective tax rate, a lot of people said it was too high. Now with a 36% effective tax rate, you are saying it is too low. What is your effective tax rate and what do you think the effective rate should be?

      I do like the idea of more customized learning where a child learns at his or her own pace. After all, that’s how we adults consume information. The question is: is private school the solution? Or is a different type of school the solution? Like a Khan Academy etc.

      1. Differentiation

        A private school doing the same thing as a public school wouldn’t do much good. Mine is awesome and head three different grade levels in a single class so you can move up or back as needed.

        I would love to reform our school system. No age limits or rules. Content based. Move forward when you understand a topic and keep practicing and attack it from another angle if you need more time.

        I think that there are a lot of kids who could be doing more and going deeper. by me there is a huge effort to test as gifted, but once you do our gifted programs aren’t any more challenging. And I think there are many kids who may not test as gifted, but who could do more and are willing to work hard. I think if we allowed acceleration and deceleration, there would be less stress around who is allowed to take these crappy gifted classes because who cares? If you need to move faster, move faster. If you need more time, or to revisit a topic, do it. If you blend ages you will get rid of the stigma of skipping or repeating a grade. It also costs less.

        With all this technology it is ridiculous we can’t snapshot a child to see where they are, and then see where they should be working.

        As to your question about effective rate I’m sure its impossible to pick one that everyone will agree with. I will look up mine when I get a chance as an anecdotal point. I know it was waaay higher. Maybe I am just an idiot and missing some amazing deductions.

        1. I’d be curious to see if you can push your kids to graduate high school by age 15 or 16 and see what becomes of them. I’ve been thinking about a different approach where we go the one year slower route to allow my son to mature more and also travel around the world with his mom and dad.

          If you haven’t read this post, I think you may enjoy it: What If You Go To Harvard And End Up A Nobody

          1. Not a bad idea Sam, I have a freshman in college now- lots of kids don’t know what they want to major in, drop out after one semester due to poor grades and waste parent’s money on fluffy degrees….I say wait a semester or 2 and let them grow up a bit.

            Also…the argument of public school vs. private- our lovely government is once again screwing up something else- the public school system in our country so sometimes private is a way better option in my opinion. These public schools are run by unions sadly.

            1. Differentiation

              Missing the point. I am not pushing. If my kids are interested in learning and want to dive deeper they should be able to.
              I want a happy self confident enabled kid.
              I don’t really care when (or if) they graduate.
              I do think it is useful to be around a diverse group of kids (age specifically in this case). I don’t really want my kids 5 years younger than the next oldest peer.
              But I don’t think my kids are so far above others either.
              I think there are a lot of kids that are held back unnecessarily. Why do people think that if they learn quickly and advance fast that they don’t have people skills? I think if you let them discover who they are, learning fast is one tiny eensy weensy piece. Nowhere near the most important or defining aspect.

              I am not a fan of busy work. I think taking time to travel sounds great. But that’s no excuse for having a school where your kid could attend for years and never learn anything except stupid rules, limitations, sitting still, and that learning is a chore. Often kids are hitting college and having to try for the first time. That doesn’t end well.

              I think if schools did a better job of challenging fast learners we would HAVE options for kids to take college classes with peers. If they are interested, capable, and are enjoying a full life (not just academics) then I don’t see why they shouldn’t be able to do so.

            2. It’s the “gap year” system they have in Australia where a lot of the students go for a walk about.

              The older I get, the more I wonder what is the rush if you don’t absolutely need the money. Life is long enough where it’s best to try to really figure things out before spending the next 10 to 20 years of your life doing that thing.

              It would be very cool to graduate high school or college and really know exactly what you want to do. At least for the next five or 10 years and then switch course.

              There’s a funny trend going on in the FIRE community, and that’s doctors trying to retire early after all that education and cost. If we gave these doctors more time before they entered medical school, maybe they would not have spent so much time and money.

  33. How will going to school with less minorities make it tougher for someone to get ahead? How does it have any impact on someone’s education at all? As long as you get along with people, what does it matter?

    Diversity is a political agenda and has little to no impact on someone’s education or success.

    Now if you want to assemble a team with different skill sets, that’s one thing. But having a group of different races – how does that help?

    1. It all depends on how rich you want to be, but more importantly, how rich you want your life to be.

      Review the joy of your international travels, of getting to know people when you speak a language to them other than English, of being able to work at an international firm with so much more opportunity since the world is connected. Also review your earnings as you are able to sell to a wider swath of people.

      How do you feel about these items? What is your situation? That’s your answer.

      1. I have experience in all the things you mention. In my view, the richness or joy can come (but doesn’t necessarily) from the difference in perspective, skills and personality. One’s race is incidental and it is, in my view, a mistake to make it a factor in hiring or school acceptance.

          1. White, Italian, Italy. Work for international bank that is “diverse”. Have traveled fairly extensively. Former statement is my opinion based on my life experiences.

      2. I don’t think you answered my question. How does going to school with little to no diversity hinder me or limit my success in life?

        International travel? I can do that.

        Learn another language and speak to them in it? I can do that. And are you assuming that just because people are from another country they speak their native language? The ones I grew up with were more American than I was yet were check marks on the diversity checklist.

        Work at an international firm. Who says I can’t?

        Can you please specify how someone like Brandon is hindered in his success in life by growing up with lack of diversity? If you personally think that your life is “richer” because you went to school with more minorities than that is a personal feeling you have, but it shouldn’t be thrown in with how “successful” your career will be since it will have little to no impact.

        1. Sure, but have you? That is the difference. You can say you can do that, but that’s like saying you have a business idea and never executing. Ideas and thoughts are a dime a dozen. Actually executing is what counts.

          Diversity is one of those things you don’t really appreciate until you experience it. I don’t think not having diversity will hurt you if you remain in an non-diverse environment where everybody comes from the same town, only speaks English, and never travels or works with diverse clients. In this case, there’s no need to learn any nuances and subtleties about other people’s cultures.

          What do you think are the reasons why you are more for helping out the $500,000 friend with four kids, then the poorer minority household? What are some of the things that happened in your life where you feel the system has hurt you and your family? What is your background? I think it could make for some great feedback for a new post on helping wealthier people in the majority get ahead.

          I’m also trying to make sure that my investment in the heartland of America is sound. So any perspective about that would be great as well.

          Thanks for sharing.

          You may like this post: Is Diversity Really Necessary In The Workplace?

          1. What difference? I have traveled and spoken another language and working at an international firm is a choice. All 3 of those items still have 0 to do with success in life. Once again personal choice is being confused with success.

            I work in a government environment where they go out of their way to be diverse and I can honestly say not growing up in one didn’t matter one bit. And given the amount of government waste and inefficiencies we can’t use government as a shining example of how diversity helps the work force.

            Seems like you’re putting words in my mouth. What I actually said was I would like the poorer family to get assistance because it is based on needs. Race has nothing to do with my opinion but it seems to be centered at yours. Why is race even involved with offering aid? Why are you assuming the minority family is poorer? Instead of trying to psycho-analyze me of how I could possible think we should help based on finances and not skin color, what happened in your life that makes you think we should offer aid and help people based on race alone?

            You still haven’t answered the question so I’d like anyone to open it up to all readers. How will going to school with less minorities make it tougher for someone to get ahead?

            1. I think that’s the answer right there: you work for the government, where it is very structured and perhaps has the lowest correlation with effort and reward in our current ecosystem. Nepotism and connections is very strong here. I totally get that you’re frustrated at the amount of waste and slowness of change in the government.

              What I encourage you to do if you are truly frustrated and think you can do better is work in the private sector, and then take a step further and be an entrepreneur. Then there is truly correlation with effort and reward. That’s where diversity and being able to connect with different types of people will really help you. For example, i’ve learned how to connect with white people who don’t care for diversity and want to focus 100% on meritocracy and ignore structural issues with regards to racism. At the same time, I’m able to connect with minorities who experience slights and discrimination on a weekly basis. As a result, the site has grown more than if I was just focused on one point of view.

              You will regret working in government 10 years from now If you’re unsatisfied now. If you’ve noticed, nobody else is hung up for helping underrepresented minorities who make less than $100K per child.

              But then again, if you can make $270,000 as a janitor a year, Working for government Cant be so bad!


            2. As a fellow white man, I am fascinated you are so against helping underprivileged minorities In favor of helping families to make multiple six figures a year.

              Rich minorities are not getting financial aid.

          2. I saw this during my business school’s new venture challenge. Businesses that catered to minority populations were under valued, misunderstood, and sometimes summarily dismissed because all of the mentors came from one or two backgrounds and simply couldn’t relate. So much missed opportunity because of a lack of exposure to different populations. And yes, race absolutely is a major component of diversity, especially in these United States.

            Great post and food for thought.

      3. I believe that making sure there is diversity in college work etc. is actually dividing our country instead of helping us to grow together. Many companies hire people with subpar qualifications to meet diversity requirement and the same thing happens in college. When people are questioning if someone got a job or into college because of their race it doesn’t promote togetherness it only divides. My argument would be that diversity is valuable and great just as long as it is natural and not legislated.

        1. What people are questioning why someone got a job or into school? I bet those same people questioning how others got a job raises plenty of questions about why they did too.

    2. Agreed. I don’t see what one has to do with the other. Just because someone doesn’t go to a diverse school and learn how to speak mandarin or spanish along with english doesn’t mean much unless you want to work in international business. If one is making a traditionalist argument such as raising a child in the suburbs that is fairly cookie cutter and then attending college to become X profession (accountant, doctor, teacher, other healthcare etc…) I would argue this so called “diversity” won’t help much. I grew up in a middle class suburb that very much so lacked diversity and I am in healthcare in which I get a long great with people from all walks of life. I even met my future wife who at work is from another country and speaks 2 languages. Didn’t seem to matter much to me despite growing up in boring white republican-ville in a Southern CA suburb.

      1. You’re exactly right. If you grow up in a “cookie-cutter“environment as you say, and want your child to thrive in a cookie cutter environment, then all is good. Diversity doesn’t matter. You won’t know what you don’t know.

        It’s Kind of like one friend who grew up in Des Moines all his life. He thought that one was the best city in America. Then he came out to San Diego at the age of 38 and he told me what the hell was he thinking.

  34. I really enjoy the breakdown Sam.

    Just curious, what are your thoughts on public vs. private school in general? In terms of the balance between costs and future opportunities? Like is it worth it sending your kids to private schools?

  35. Interesting post, and as you mentioned, Sam, one that many might have strong opinions on. I’m fairly neutral either way (at the moment).

    Some background for context purposes before sharing my thoughts on your questions:

    – I attended public schools kindergarten through college

    – I grew up in a middle/upper class suburb where the schools had excellent rankings

    – After school / college, Mrs. BD and I lived in New York City (mostly Brooklyn) for 8 years and now Chicago for the last 2.5 years.

    – Mrs. BD and I currently do not have any kids

    My thoughts:

    – I don’t think earners with +$100k income should be excluded from receiving financial aid, but the representation of those receiving aid should be much higher for those with lower incomes.

    – The right income threshold per kid can be challenging to define and also vary drastically by school, location, etc. Regardless of an actual number, I think cost of living for a particular area and other factors would need to be considered to come up with a number. The amount available could also be weighed on one’s income (make more, still eligible but able to get less; make less, still eligible but able to get more). This is a hard one.

    – Overall, I agree with you that diversity is extremely important across multiple categories.

    1. I’m similar to you in terms of middle class upbringing and going to public schools through college (the public arm of a private university in my case). Living in Chicago with no kids now. Given the huge disparities in this city when it comes to neighborhoods and schools, I have friends going through this now. In this area you either pay for the tuition to go to private school or you move to the suburbs and pay that same money in property taxes to send your kids to public school. There are very few Chicago neighborhoods where the kids who live there go to the local public school. SLoop, Ogden, Blaine, and Lincoln Park are the only ones that come to mind.
      When I do have kids I want to keep them in the city and send them to public schools but I’m unsure if I want my kid being a guinea pig in certain neighborhoods where the schooling doesn’t reflect the residents.

      1. Here’s the thing once you have kids: nobody is willing to let their kid be a guinea pig. We’ve only got one shot, so we rationalize how we better spend as much money as possible and send our kids to the best school as possible because if our kid turns out rotten, at least we can say we tried our best.

        People move in order to get their kids into better public schools. People take on second jobs, work the graveyard shift, save like crazy, or work the system. A loving parent will do ANYTHING to give their kids a better chance at life.

        As for me, I’m using my time to try and UNDERSTAND all the various avenues and consequences before making a decision. Even then, a lot will depend on how my son is as a person.

        1. Good points, Sam – thanks.

          Hi OMGF –

          I didn’t have an opportunity to reply prior to Sam’s additional input, but I would add that I’ve witnessed the same with my brother/sister-in-law with my 3-year-old nephew and 7 year-old-niece. Having kinds, definitely not surprisingly, changed their lives. They also moved to get their kids into better schools, etc.

          Related to your points on Chicago, a few friends who’ve recently have had kids moved to some the same neighborhoods you mentioned. Overall, multiple variables come into play in any city/location (one’s income, cost of living, quality of schools, distance to/from school, etc.).

          Again, I don’t have kids, but I’m sure it can be a challenging decision to make – especially, related to Sam’s point, depending how in-depth one might be looking to understand the impact of a potential decision.

          – Mike

  36. Wow $500K and in the red! I’m not very familiar with the San Francesco market. Is there really no way for somebody to spend less than $1M on housing even outside the city? If I was making that kind of money, I’d be squirreling away so much if it that my retirement plans would be within sniffing distance.

  37. It depends on the institution. The government shouldn’t be giving said aid because the person making 500k has a choice where they send their schools and where they live. Ie the choices they make drive their expenditures. I’m sure there is more the one person nearby making 150k total with four kids and surviving. But a private institution chooses whom it wants in based on its strategy. It’s financial aid should depend on whom it wants to add.

  38. I just don’t picture myself sending my children to private school. It’s a lot of money for barely any empirical evidence that it has a large effects on the outcome.

    I was in highschool when Bush was in office and they just started the No Child Left Behind act. What San Francisco decided to do was take the kids from higher performing schools (Lowell) to raise the test scores of lower performing schools (that would have lost funding otherwise).

    That meant taking a bunch of Asian kids and injecting them across town on an early a hour bus ride every day to the ghetto part of town.

    Nothing really mixed. All kids keep to their own kind first. Rode the same bus. Took the same honors/AP classes. It’s just funny that the middle class + poor Asian kids were test score raising donkeys in a political game. The white kids could afford private school to get away.

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