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Beyond The Message



In yesterday’s message about depression, Dr. James Connelly listed out some “grinches” in our lives, that can be symptoms of depression, and flipped them into gifts. A few people asked for the list, and James supplied his notes from this part of the message. This is not a comprehensive analysis by any means, but just some thoughts James came up with to share in the message. For better context, watch the message in its entirety. (more…)

Debt Free College

Pastor Mark recently presented some important information on how to attend college debt free to a group of parents and future college students.  See his helpful information below.

Cost of Attending College

  Public University Private College Public – Out of State
Tuition 8,655 29056 21,706
Room and Board 9,000 10,500 9,000
Books 1000 1000 1000
Transportation and Misc   (Varies based on distance) 2500 2500 2500
Total 20,155 43,056 34,206
Times four years 80,000+ 172,000+ 142,000+
Times four kids 320,000 648,000 568,000

Some real life school tuition amounts (tuition ONLY)

  • University of Nebraska Omaha  $6,550
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln – $8,060
  • Creighton University – $34,330
  • Northwestern University – $45,120 (Total cost of attendance is $63,228!)
  • Metro Community College – $1550
  • Crown College – $22,430

A look at Debt

  • $20,000 Student loan at 6.8% for Ten years = payment of 230.16
  • $32,000 student loan at 6.8% for ten years = monthly payment of 368.26
  • $60,000 student loan at 6.8% for ten years = monthly payment of 690.48
  • $100,000 student loan at 6.8% for ten years = monthly payment of 1150.80

Do you want to be enslaved to these figures for a decade?  Do you want your kids to be?

Discussion: What is your debt tolerance?  What do you expect your student to contribute?

For reflection: How much can you contribute toward your kid’s education?

Getting Through College debt free

Option A – Don’t go to college – Seriously!  If your kid is not academically inclined or just prefers the trades, a bachelor’s degree could be a big waste.  Did you know that only 32% of Douglas County residents have a bachelor’s degree?  The trades offer good, respectable jobs with great income.  An apprentice will MAKE money from the ages of 18-22 (i.e. no debt) AND make a good salary after that.  Specialize in a good trade and you can make more than your college educated buddies. Consider these trades:

Wind Turbine Technician – Average $67,500 – 8 yrs experience – $84,000

Plumber -$51,600 Average

HVAC Controls – $51,000 per year

Elevator Mechanic – $49,900 Average

Maintenance Supervisor – 48,800 Average

Specialities like large-Tractor mechanics for Caterpillar or John Deere can pull in six figure incomes.  Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs says “In the trades, if you show up on time, work hard all day and volunteer for the tough jobs, you’ll be a supervisor in no time and wind up owning the company.”

Option B – Athletic Scholarships – OK, if that was your game, you wouldn’t be at this seminar

Option C – Military – Some of the best schools in the country are run by the Armed Forces.  Westpoint, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academies will give you a first rate education and you will graduate debt free.  The catch? You owe them four years of your life and are constrained by military discipline.

Option D – ROTC – Get a free education while going to a top-notch school.  Your primary extra-curricular will need to be “Becoming an Officer”.  And you are obligated to four years in the military and another four in the reserves.  You need a 2.5 GPA and a 19 on the ACT as well as passing a physical test.  But you go into the military as on officer, not a grunt.

Option E – Get yourself a second job and just work it off.  If your student wants to go to college, live on campus and is not a fabulous student, this may be the best option for you as a parent.  Sacrifice for four years to put your student through school… and hope he or she appreciates it.

Option F – Skim on costs.  One way to do this is to go to Metro for your General Education requirements and transfer to a state school.  If you live at home during this time, you can save about $18,000 per year, or $36,000 total.  Often kids who go to Metro are deeply connected at 8:08 and have a job to defray expenses.

Option E – Live at home and go to UNO.  I know some home school families who have done this starting about age 16.  Their kids are graduating with a college degree at age 20 for about $26,000.

Option H – College of the Ozarks – Nicknamed “Hard Work U”, every student is employed by the university in order to make the University work.  In return, there is no tuition (After Federal/State grants and a scholarship.)  Students graduate without debt and with valuable work experience.  College of the Ozarks is a Christian school with strong values!

Option I – Get great academic scholarships – This will be the balance of the seminar.

Getting Great Scholarships

Need based scholarships – aka – It’s good to be poor.

Pell Grants – Lower income families can be eligible for up to $5,550 per year in grants from the federal government.  This is based on financial need and cost of attendance, not academics.  It does not need to be repaid.

If you are eligible for the Pell grant, and are attending a school in Nebraska, apply for the Nebraska Opportunity Grant.  It is the state version of the federal Pell Grant.  An average grant is about $1,000 per year.

In Nebraska, the Susan Buffet Foundation offers great scholarships to incoming freshmen with financial need.  Must be a Nebraska High School grad with a 2.5 GPA and a valid FAFSA (If your EFC is below $15,000, you are encouraged to apply.  This is likely if family income is below 80K.)  Must attend a Nebraska State School.  The scholarship covers all tuition!  Score!

Here’s the truth: if you are a good student from a low-income family, it is not hard to go to college for free in Nebraska!  Do some digging, apply for everything, and thank God for being in such a great country/state/church!

State Colleges and the “GRID”

Usually, a combination of class rank or GPA and ACT or SAT scores will score a scholarship at a state school.   Some schools will pay big dollars to get elite students.

UNO, for example, has this grid

Regents – Nebraska residents with a 30 ACT, top 25% of class will cover FULL tuition for 5 years.

Chancellors – Nebraska residents with a 28 ACT and top 25%

Deans – Nebraska residents with a 26 ACT and top 25%

There are many colleges with full tuition or full-ride scholarships on their grid.  Unfortunately, none of them are close to Nebraska.  If you are adventurous and a good student, you can guarantee an “Automatic” full scholarship somewhere.

Competitive College Scholarships

Most colleges have scholarships that are ‘competitive’, meaning they have a limited number and will give them to students who are the best applicants they can get.  At University of Nebraska, Linclon, for example, the full-tuition Regents Scholarship is this way.  Usually, it takes a 32 ACT and top ten percent of class to get it… but no promises.  A committee decides.

The Walter Scott scholarships at UNO are popular among CCC engineering students.  They require a 31+ on the ACT and are competitive.  They are only for engineers and cover tuition, room & board, and maid service!  Lots of Scott scholars get GOOD jobs at Kiewit when they are done.

The best scholarships across the country are competitive.  Nearly every school has at least two (maybe a hundred!) and you have to come to campus for an interview.  It is a good way for them to get top students to visit the campus.

If you are a sharp student, these are worth going for, as they may be worth $80K or more!

See the attached list of full-ride, full-tuition competitive scholarships.

Competitive Departmental Scholarships

Every state school has scholarships particular to their departments (Journalism, Chemical Engineering, etc.)  These are almost always competitive.  Apply for them all.  Especially if you are following the top 25% rule.  Tons of these go unclaimed every year.  Although they are usually smaller amounts, they can really add up!

Scholarships particular to you

Are you a left handed son of a bacon-stretcher who is going to Hawaii to major in underwater basketweaving?  There is a scholarship for you!

Honestly, it is amazing how many places offer scholarships (to any school) because of your skill or association.  Your parents business, your extra curriculars, your social views – even books you have read can get you scholarships.  (You could win 10K for a great essay on “Atlas Shrugged!”)

A couple that may be relevant:

CCC students going to Crown college and planning to do ministry – Scholarships are usually 6-8K per year, are often matched by Crown, and can go a long way to pay for school.  Some CCC students in the “Crown Leadership Institute” are going for free.

Students who were homeschooled or private schooled, are Nebraska residents, and go to Hillsdale college in Michigan.  The Grewcock scholarship covers 2/3 of tuition.  At least 4 CCC students are on this scholarship right now.

Your best bets to find these scholarships? – Nebraska scholarships for Nebraska kids going to Nebraska schools – Put in the things you like and are good at and it will spit out dozens of scholarships that may fit you!

The Golden Apple

Becoming a National Merit Finalist is the surest way to get a full ride scholarship.  How do you become a National Merit Finalist?  Take the PSAT in your Junior Year and score in the top 1%.  Sure, this is hard.  But if you are a good student (top 20%?) and you make it a goal to study hard, you have a good chance.  Most students never study for this test because they don’t realize the payoff can be $130,000 or more.

There are 70 Universities in the United States that will give a full tuition scholarship (or better) to National Merit Scholars.  The reason is that having National Merit Scholars increases their status and ranking as a college, so they are MOTIVATED.  University of Arizona, University of Oklahoma, University of Kentucky and University of Alabama are just a few of the flagship schools that offer this.

Most other schools will give $1000-$5000 per year for National Merit Finalists as well.

My recommendation: Study for your PSAT. (more later)

Choosing a School based on scholarship availability rather than reach

The top 25% rule – Apply to schools your student will be in the top 25% for max scholarships

Do you want your student to be the best in his class or associate with better students?

  • Elite Schools
  • Flagship State Schools
  • Midrange Private Schools
  • Standard State Schools
  • Community Colleges and Trade Schools

Don’t rule out the elite schools

Princeton’s average Debt is the lowest in America – $6,000 for four years

Northwestern Assures you will not graduate with over $22,000 in debt in their quarter million dollar education (assuming your family pays what the FAFSA says you should pay.)

Figure out about 5 Schools to apply to and go for everything you can get.

Helping your student get scholarships

1) Get good grades.  Sounds obvious, but grades turn into dollars in college.

2) Maximize your ACT scores.  ACT/SAT tests (and the PSAT) are a measure of your smarts, but they are also a skill you can work on.

  • Your best High School job – Study for ACT
  • My driving ‘bribe’ to our kids
  • Our personal results
  • This can be worth tens of thousands of dollars!
  • John Baylor Test Prep – A great tool.  Online vs. Live teaching
  • Princeton Review – your best resource on how to beat the system!

3) Make this YOUR hobby.  Your student has a ton to do.  Become a research hound – sort through the junk and let them apply.

4) Get familiar with .  Parent site of fellow research hounds.  Type in any criteria you want and you can find FABULOUS stuff!  I have done “National Merit Full Tuition” and “Full Tuition Automatic Scholarships” and “Full Tuition Competetive Scholarships” to prepare for tonight.  Tip: skip to the last page of every thread and work backwards.  Often, some parent has compiled all of the information from hundreds of entries and summarizes it at or near the end in a digestible format!

Going places…around the world!

In this clip, Craig Walters commisions CCC members to go and serve in various places around the world.

Watch services live at the Online Campus. Sundays at 9 & 10:45 AM CST

Beyond The Message: Project 4:4 Reflections {Video}

In the latest Beyond The Message, I sit down with my wife, Jana Murphy, to discuss her thoughts on completing Project 4:4. Jana has helped lead the MOPS ministry at CCC (Mothers of Preschoolers), and is a part of the Online Campus team.

Beyond The Message: Superhero Films {Video}

Klint Bitter (Middle School Pastor) and I sit down to discuss superhero films in the latest Beyond The Message. We did this partly for fun, but also because we are often asked about superhero films by parents. We discuss the draw people have with the films, and some guidelines for parents with allowing their kids to see these types of films.

Beyond The Message: Minimalism and the Bible {Video}

In the latest Beyond The Message, I had the opportunity to sit down with Joshua Becker and talk about minimalism. Joshua is an author and speaker on the topic, and has been writing about his own minimalism journey at his blog Becoming Minimalist.

I first heard Joshua share about minimalism back in 2010, and it impacted my life. Since then, I’ve had the joy of getting to know Joshua better through social media and in person.

Recently, Joshua was passing through Omaha and he had some time to sit down and talk about minimalism. We also discussed how many of the values of minimalism are also Biblical values.

Click here if the video doesn’t appear.

Beyond The Message: Balancing Family and Commitments

In the latest Beyond The Message, Middle School Pastor Klint Bitter and I talk a bit about how parents have to be intentional about balancing their families and their kids’ activities/commitments.

Beyond The Message: More Q&A From The Gay Debate (Part 3)

At the third installment of The Gay Debate, we weren’t able to answer the numerous questions that people asked. In this Beyond The Message video, Tim Perry and I try to answer a few more questions that he couldn’t address because of time constraints at Gathering.


Beyond The Message: Servant Songs

In the latest Beyond The Message, I sit down with Tim Perry to discuss the Servant Songs. Tim and I briefly touch on each one of the four “songs”, which are found in the Book of Isaiah.

To watch or listen to Tim’s message, click here.


Beyond The Message: Counseling (and Addressing the Stigma Associated with it)

In the latest Beyond The Message video, I sit down with Pastor Steve Walters to talk about the good that comes with counseling. One of the things we address is the stigma, and shame, that is often associated with it by people who are receiving counseling, or are in need of counseling.

To watch more Beyond The Message videos, click here.