Only the Rich Get Old?




Opinion CategoryI’m glad I’m not in college. You see, the price of tuition at some U.S. universities has been increasing and my alma mater is one of them.

When I do research on the various college savings funds available for my son, I always run into a few articles that discuss the need to save for retirement over saving for your child’s college. Of course if you don’t have to choose between one or the other, all the better. But for many people, especially in the current economy, sacrificing one for the other is a necessity and according to experts, retirement wins out.

Ghosts of Nuit BlancheI understand this viewpoint given that you can’t take out a loan for retirement like you can for college. But in light of the BMJ article by Roger Dobson, Life expectancy gap between better and less educated in US widens, I wonder if the experts’ opinions would change.

Now, granted the difference in life expectancy was, for some groups, small, ranging from a few months to a few years. (Although for women this number was much greater.) These numbers are still somewhat significant though and the researchers from Harvard even go so far as to say,

… all recent gains in life expectancy at age twenty five have occurred among better educated groups, raising educational differentials in life expectancy by 30%.

So it looks like the motivation to obtain some level of post high-school education is more far reaching than we first thought. Beyond all the old arguments that may have fallen on deaf ears for one reason or another, we can add a longer life to the list of convincing arguments for attending college.

So when it comes to the debate about attending college or when, as a parent, you are trying to decide on the best method to save college money for your child, there is something else to consider. Unfortunately, this means that the rising cost of tuition does affect me, more than I first realized. Considering the current cost of tuition, will it be possible for the average family to send their child (or, gasp, children) to college?

There’s the argument that children can pay for school themselves by taking out loans and working part-time to cover some of their expenses. But that brings up the dilemma of starting out your “adult” life with some serious debt.

So tuition is through the roof and according to this study attending college does more than boast your bank account. It makes me wonder if someday it will only be the rich who have the luxury of getting old.

Reference

Dobson, R. (2008). Life expectancy gap between better and less educated in US widens. BMJ, 336(7654), 1155-1155. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a125

  • Rob Shampine, CCPS

    Kelly,

    Thanks for your comment on our blog College Funding Strategies and Beyond!

    I found your article very interesting and posing some interesting thoughts.

    There’s no doubt that life expectancy is on the rise; just look in the card section at any Hallmark store and you will be surprised!

    I’m a firm believer in both planning and preparing for college and retirement as they both pose very serious economic impacts on people’s lives.

    Both require a personalized approach and should be carefully intertwined to work harmoniously and not cause negative financial impacts.

    Once again, thanks for your comments.

    Rob Shampine, CCPS
    “Helping families reduce their college costs.”

  • That is a lot of thoughts rolled into one article.

    1. If you save for college now – then you child would probably NOT be able to get funding when they go to college – because they have all that money. Kind of like – if you buy insurance – FEMA won’t help you. Is this a great country or what? So I have determined – the less responsible I am – the more I will succeed in this country. Everyone over to my house tonight – who cares if we make it to work tommorrow.

    2. Anyone can follow healthy eating habits, supplements, and moderate exercise – to extend their life – so I don’t see any barriers to poor people doing that.

    Maybe rich people know that their body image is part of their success so they invest more time into keeping a good looking body image – which in turn – helps their success more.

    As someone that went from fat slob to “on the road to studdom” – people treat me very differently. And as someone that has interviewed for many high paying jobs – they definitely give you the “look test” to make sure you look healthy, clean, prosperous, cute, and full of energy.

    Who wants to hire a fat slob for a high paying job – that will keel over and die from a heart attack any second? Or may miss work because they will be sick a lot? Or add to your medical costs? If it is a low paying job – why not take your chances on a fat slob – at least they showed up for the interview?

    There is a lot of competition for the high paying jobs. You can’t just be smart – there are a lot of smart people vying for the same job. You’ve also got to look healthy. Notice I did not say “be healthy”. Big difference between looking healthy and being healthy.

    Too many thoughts on that one article …

  • Given that the health care you can receive in the States is linked to your income level, and that your income level is affected by whether you have, or have not, graduated from college, this result is unsurprising.

    They should run a similar studies in a country where access to proper health care is not limited by your income – I am sure the results would be quite different.

    Who wants to hire a fat slob for a high paying job – that will keel over and die from a heart attack any second? Or may miss work because they will be sick a lot? Or add to your medical costs? If it is a low paying job – why not take your chances on a fat slob – at least they showed up for the interview?

    It does look like people in certain high-paying jobs do not get pregnant (and gain body fat as a result). Am I surprised? Not in the least.

J. R. White

J. R. White is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She has over five years of experience in education and pedagogy.
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