Paying High Taxes for a Good School District, Worth It?

Updated on April 20, 2010
M.S. asks from Morganville, NJ
14 answers

Hi all, I am wondering if I am doing the right thing for my children (I think I am but sometimes I doubt it) I live in NJ, and pay a pretty penny on property taxes to live in this community. Problem is I have ZERO saved for college because the cost of living here is so high. My question is , should I move to a more affordable neighborhoold to save for college? My oldest girl will be starting high school in September. Suggestions?

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So What Happened?

I am so touched with all your answers, you have made me feel so much better. I am going to stay put, by the way I can identify with many of you, I also paid my way through my MBA, took me over 10 years while working full time, I am also the first college grad in my family. Thank you all, I feel so much better, and can appreciate what I do have more.

M. V.

More Answers



answers from New York on

In this economy, and other, for that matter having savings for children is not a given. You do what you can do. Can you get out of your skin? no.
I have BA and MA and no one, but me, paid for those. it was never an expected thing for my parents to pay for my education. They didn't forego any vacations or any family things to save up money for 3 kids. My husband paid his way through college, and we have no hard feelings towards our parents. in fact it is something we consider doing as well with our children. I would help out my children but would not pay their way. I make sure they get a good education while they are young, and after they turn 18 they need to know money doesn't grow on trees. you get what you work for.
That said, we have savings for children, not put on their names, and not something we flaunt to them. we will use it if we have to but would expect my children are raised responsibly and pave their own way, just like their parents and grandparents did.
To the poster who was shocked and suggests you put 10k per year per child. wow. i am speechless.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

An adult that wants to go to school will do so. And I think people that pay for it out of their own pocket appreciate it more. My parents never funded a dime of my education ( my dad is a PhD!) and I joined the service just to get the benefits to complete my degree. It's what *I* wanted so I made it happen. I didn't go because mommy and daddy wanted me to go. Make sense?

For us, we have some money saved up but I don't plan on giving my children a dime to get through college either. I will however pay off their loans when they're done.

Another point to consider is you may sock away too much money and your kids won't qualify for some grants or other financial assistance because they're to "rich" by financial aid standards but still too poor to afford tuition.

Stay in the good school now and figure out paying for college later. Maybe call a couple colleges and get a counselors opinion too. GL!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You do what you can, and if you haven't put anything aside yet, well you can start now, winch that belt in tight.

Moving is probably not worth it if you have younger kids still moving through the system, so long as you feel the school system is in fact serving you well.

My husband had to work in college and had a mix of loans and grants to pay. His mom battled his dad in court for the dad's share of their part of the expense. He was thankful for every dollar, in real time.

My own education was fully paid for by my parents. I did not have a real sense of the magnitude of that expense because I didn't have to do anything other than deliver the check to the registrar twice a year.

To this day, I think the appreciation my husband had for the 4 years he spent in college (where we met, btw) led him to take the very fullest advantage of his experience academically, whereas I was more distracted by social and extracurricular matters, and also less focused on college as a preparatory experience for life.

So don't beat yourself up. Sure, your kids may have more choices on where to go if you had more money, but that is not a guarantee that they would have had a better educational experience, in the broadest sense of the word. Just do your best to sound out all the potential sources of funds, and make your kids your partners in solving this problem. This is the beginning of the process of leaving the nest and they will be stronger for it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it's always worth it. The difference in resources between schools is unbelievable. That's gotta make a difference.
I wouldn't move to a worse school system to save money for college. Do what you can. Look into a Dave Ramsay book for ways to save money that you might not have thought about.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Hi M.,
I'm sure my answer won't help, but just to give you a couple of other thoughts.
First of all my husband and I, both college graduates do not feel we owe our kids anything but the opportunity. I am still the only college graduate in my family and had to work my butt off to get through. I didn't aspire to go to a big university, but went to the local community college, got my associates then finished my bachelor's degree after my husband and I were married. When there is a true will, there is a way!

My in laws did initially pay for my husband and all his sibling's education. But only 1 out of the 4 went all the way through the first time. So he too finished after we were married.

We have a 19 year old and a 15 year old. The 19 year old has already partied his was home from the university and is now at the community college which is where we wanted him to start in the first place. We knew he wasn't ready. Socially he was fine, but he is not focused or self-motivated and couldn't stay motivated away from home.
Our 15 year old on the other hand is very motivated and focused. Unless something changes in the next few years, we really are not worried about her being ready for college.

I have friends who had "saved" for their kid's college but with the downturn of the economy their situations changed. One friend has told her daughter they will pay for the equivalent of an in-state tuition. If she chooses to go out of state the rest is on her own. Another friend of mine, both parents are professionals with good incomes and savings until. . . were thrilled that their daughter did so well in the good public school that she is getting a couple scholarships to the in state university.

And just to throw another thought into the discussion. We supposedly live in one of the best school districts in the state. But we have chosen for a variety of reasons to send our kids to a private, independent school. We are fortunate to be able to do that, but essentially are paying double. Taxes and tuition.

Should you have already been saving money for college? Maybe. I agree with all the questions Rebecca asked below but would add. . .
will your daughter be ready for college? Socially and academically?
A good school will help with the academics but there are a lot of other things to consider when sending a kid off.

Good Luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Education is worth it! Try to find something else to do to earn some extra money- they also have great college savings clubs. I want to look into Chet.
I work from home if you want something PT to do in your free time for extra $. We all could use extra $.

Let me know!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

A parent who hasn't created a college fund for their child is not worth of an "OMG you have no college fund" response. I am thick skinned and I winced when I read that response.

A.) I put my husband thru college and we do not think less of his parents for this. B.) We are in a world where 401ks have been wiped out, jobs lost, medical care slashed...Something has got to give. You need feel no guilt for this Mama Sister. C.) Student loans are completely reasonable debt to have. D.) Could someone please tell me what the holy heck is wrong with state universities?! There are great affordable post-sec options out there. E.) Speaking of post-sec....If your oldest's high school has post-sec options (taking free college courses while still in high school) - Do it.

The cost of selling and buying a home is not exactly cheap. But maybe you'd amortize that expense if your oldest were say....10 years away from college. But as it is, I think it would be more fiscally responsible to stay put.

Instead compare your current annual property taxes to the lower ones of a neighborhood you might reasonably move to. What is the difference? $1,000...$2,000...$5,000...? Whatever it is.multiple it by 4 (the years you have to save for your oldest). Now take a look at that amount. Say it is about $10,000. What else (besides paying <property tax) could you do to save $10,000? That's $2,500 a year...Or $208/month. Now look at your budget. Can you cut cable? Downgrade your wireless plan? Eliminate your land line? Eat out less? Skip the mani/pedi/highlights/etc?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Higher taxes and great schools, usually means, better resale value on your home. I'd stay put. There are so many options out there for college funding, in my opinion, it isn't neccessary to pay for your childrens college. With all the grants, scholarships, loans, and even schools where the kids work their way thru, instead of paying for schooling, there's lots of options. I would however, encourage college and even help find different means of paying. Like one poster said, you never know how the kid is going to do in college and if they'll be wasting your money.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hello M. V-

I think you need to take into consideration a lot of other factors too, like how much could you really put away after you consider moving fees/costs, purchasing a new home and selling your current home. You will only have 4 years to put money away.

As yourself, how much do you want to put away per year/ per child.
Do you want to use a college savings plan, like 529, or a bank account, like a money market fund or laddered CD's?
Would you be able/do you want to help your child(ren) pay off loans?
Would you be able to/ do you want to pay for college out of your pocket?
What are your child(ren)'s grades like?
Will they get a scholarship?
Will they get into college/do they want to go?
IF they want to go to college, where do they want to go? There is a big difference between a community college, state school and private school in price.

A few months back I thought about moving into a smaller/less expensive home, but when I factored in all the moving fees, it was best to stay put.

I hope this helps. If you look at 529's talk to a financial advisor, 529's and other investment products have fees, so you need to take that into consideration when you're looking for a short term investment outlook.

R. Magby

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Dear M.,

Fellow NJ-er here, and I feel your pain! My thinking is that a good K-12 school system is essential to prepare children to succeed in college. And, honestly, unless you make a whole lot more money than I do, you probably wouldn't save enough between now and when your daughter starts college for it to really make a difference. Our plan is to either borrow against the value of our house to pay or help pay for college, or to sell our house and move somewhere else WHEN our son goes to college -- to put the equity directly toward his education. Just don't ask me how and when we're ever going to retire ... sigh.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on have no college fund?

I understand some parents can't or won't do it but our opinion is that it is not an option to fund our child's college education.

I know we are odd man out on this issue at times. You cannot rely on potential scholarships.

On a personal note, we feel it is our obligation as a parent to get our child out of college debt free and we have sacrificed many vacations, upgrading things in the house, materialistic items to make sure she is fully funded.

We started our funding before she was born in 1994. our "basis" was to add $10,000 per year by her birthday to be on track. So far with market fluctuations, we have spent more than that to make sure she is funded but we just feel it is the right thing to do.

If I were you, I'd talk to my financial counselor and get started NOW.

We are in a good school district and pay high taxes, I am sure not as high as your area but high.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'd stay put. Good high school means better in college. Don't worry about not having a college fund. Have her take college courses in high school. And I know in Tx they give grants just for graduating early (within 36 months instead of 48) or on the highest scale possible on the list (i.e. there's 3, the 'normal' one, the recommended, and distinguished plans). I took extra classes so I was able to graduate in 36...I skipped grade 12 :) There's always financial aid for her if she lives on her own. Don't sweat it! Live in the present moment :)



answers from Jacksonville on

Do any of the businesses and schools participate in the SAT scholarships?
IN our community the children have to complete maybe 200 hours of community service, maybe 100. Diffferent school districts are different. Anyway the children partiipate in community service, the kennel, Operation Chirstmas Cheer, hospital, whomever in the community participates in the scholarship hour thing. Then at graduation they get an automatic $500. THere's your first semester book fee.
Also what kind of classes are offered at the "lower" school? What are the AP test scores and what are the core subject test scores? How many graduating seniors go to an Ivy League school? How many are granted scholarships?
I am living in an area that many refer to as "low" or not as good as say Lowden County, Virginia. But my daughter is getting an excellent education at her school. She takes the AP and HOnors classes and our test scores are very good for our area.
At the "better" school or that with more money, she will have more opportunities; band, art, engineering, drafting, etc.
Go to and check out the other schools before you write them off.
INcidently, last year two children from this town went to Harvard and one to the Naval Academy that I know of last year.
If you do stay you can get loans and there are other forms of paying for college. There are work studies and she can get a job her junior and senior year to help cover all her play money.


answers from Fresno on

If she goes to a bad high school, she won't get into a good college, and if by some miracle she does, she will struggle when she gets there. I'd stay in the good school district. Unless, of course, she can get a scholarship to a good private HS.

Also, something to consider. I don't know what your family income is, but many private colleges now give free rides to any accepted student with a family income of $75K or less. (I am a Dartmouth alumna, and we voted several years ago to use some of the college's endowment to fund scholarships for middle income families. Most of the Ivies are doing this now.) With an income above that, the amount you pay increases proportionally. Financial aid takes into account what you have in savings, so having a savings account for her may or may not even help your cause. Bottom line, college costs a fortune, there will be some need-based financial aid if your daughter gets into a good university, but to get there, she has to get really good grades in a really good school.

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