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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Info, with reservations, May 19, 2011
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This review is from: Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents (Paperback)
This review is from a parent-of-three. Degrees: BS, PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy). Profession: Hospital Pharmacy. Back in the day, I paid for college myself- via working, Pell grants, loans, and merit scholarships. It was hard to finance it all myself, but not as hard as it would be to accomplish today. I pity the kids with unsupportive parents, especially those who might use this book as an excuse to cop out on their kids.

This book is full of much-needed information, especially for parents who are facing this process for the first time. I highlighted all the way through. But, having been through the process (incl. one UMass grad), I have a few observations to make.

First: Zac discourages people from applying to out-of-state universities, because then you would be paying private-school tuition rates. In 2005, Ohio University offered a grant to my son that erased the tuition difference between Ohio U and UMass. This is a common practice, to attract out-of-staters. However it may be true, as Zac mentioned, that the current economy has shrunk these grant offers.

Zac's advice boils down to this: "Get a degree by hook or by crook and as cheaply as possible, in order to get out of school and start achieving your real goal, which is: making money." Zip through in 3 years, skip classes, and take the easiest major that will get you the highest GPA. The diploma is all that counts; education itself is discounted as a necessary evil. Note that Zac is an art history major. I assume this has afforded Zac a high GPA that will get him (along with this book authorship) into a great B-school grad program. It's all about the bottome line, baby! This is great advice for the entrepreneurial types.

It's also great advice for the person who has no parental support and has to make tough choices to cut corners. I was once one of these people- but I didn't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I valued the education highly. My philosophy was, and is, "Learning is never wasted." It is not a waste of your time to be in college- it is the beginning of your lifetime of learning. There is such a tremendous "value-added" to a real education that cannot be measured in money.

Meanwhile, Zac breezes by an entire world of "difficult majors" when he dismisses engineering majors out-of-hand (not enough return on investment, high risk of failure) and overlooks medical careers entirely. But those "difficult majors," really do make paying off those loans much, much easier. I borrowed about 1/3 of the cost of my education and paid it off handily in three years after graduation. The "easy-major, high-GPA" crowd benefits the most from Zac's advice to stay debt-free, as they are likely to have the hardest time recouping the investment.

Zac and I achieved the goal of college-assisted financial security by different approaches: mine was to tackle the hardest subjects, learning as much as I possibly could, and leaving the money part to sort itself out as a corollary. Zac's advice is to focus on the money first, with the education as a corollary. I think that this is good advice for the average college-bound student, but less relevant for the "true learner," who in any case knows how to pick what he needs from Zac's book.

P.S. It's a catchy premise to have Zac's handsome face grace the cover of this book, but do I believe that this 22-y.o. was the sole writer/researcher of this opus? Ha,ha. But my hat is off to Zac for his entrepreneurship. He tapped into a real need, and this very useful body of information deserves to be on the best-seller list. Good job, Zac!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 17, 2012 5:32:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 17, 2012 5:34:51 PM PST
Anita L says:
This is a great review. As important as it is to save money on your college education, I'd say it's more important to make sure you're not shortchanging yourself in terms of the quality of the education you're getting. As someone who wouldn't save $$ at the expense of a meaningful education, I probably would not find this book so useful.
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