Guest Author - Susan D. Bates
I reviewed The Everything Paying for College Book by Nathan Brown and Shereyle A. Proper (2005). Overall I thought the book provides good information in an easy to find layout; however, I do have some concerns about some information in the book.
The layout is possibly the book's best feature because it makes it easy to read and easy to find information. Readers who are looking for a specific topic can easily find the right section on the page because each chapter is divided to into short sections with section headings written in bold. The person reading the book (or a chapter) from beginning to end because is less likely to become bored because the information is provided in small bits, giving the reading a dynamic flow. For the reader who is scanning a section, important information will not be missed because it is highlighted in text boxes throughout the book.
Another useful feature of the book is that covers the basics of a broad range of topics related to paying for college. Not only does the book explain paying for college through traditional financial aid methods such as loans, scholarships, and grants, but it also helps readers understand realistic college costs, the financial aid process, ways to search for "free money," saving for college, part-time employment, military educational incentives, how to save money, and more.
My first concern about this book is that the information is somewhat dated. As with any book covering financial aid, the information has the potential to become out of date between the writing and the publishing. Therefore, when dollar amounts are given (such as the amount of money a student can borrow), the reader must realize that they are subject to change. In addition, as new laws are enacted and other situations change, other information in the book may no longer be current. Overall, however, I found much of the information to be relatively timeless and did not find this to be much of a problem.
I found most of the information in the book to be accurate at the time of printing, especially in the case of financial aid information. However, I had concerns about a couple of statements. In the first concerning statement, the authors stated unequivocally that college is "worth the price" in terms of expected income. While personally, I believe that college has many benefits outside of the expected post-college income potential, some prospective college students are mainly interested in income potential. Readers may mistakenly believe that college graduation will guarantee them a high income and that the higher degree they earn, the higher income they will earn. Generally speaking, the more education people have, the higher income they earn; however, this is not always the case. It is important to understand that jobs are not guaranteed and that income potential varies greatly among occupations. There are some occupations requiring a master's degree that have a lower average income than some other occupations requiring an associate degree.
Another statement that I found somewhat misleading is in the military section where the authors state that "money shouldn't be a factor" when deciding between National Guard and Reserve options because the money from the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (often referred to as the GI Bill) is the same for both components. While the specific GI Bill money is the same for reservist and guardsmen, there can be college monetary differences between the two branches. First, some units in both branches provide additional funding added to the GI Bill for members of that unit called a GI Bill Kicker. Second, both branches usually provide additional money for college students called Tuition Assistance. If this money is provided by the state (though the National Guard), it can usually be used in conjunction with the GI Bill. Tuition Assistance provided by the federal government (through the reserves or National Guard) usually can only be used if the GI Bill is not being used. Also, it is important to note that the amount of state Tuition Assistance money offered by the National Guard varies among states and may not be provided by all states. Prospective reservists and guardsmen should look at many factors when considering various components of the military.
Overall, I found this book to be a helpful resource despite the stated areas of concern. I believe book would be particularly useful for students and families who are unfamiliar with the financial aid process and want an easy-to-follow guide.
This book was purchased by the author of this review using her own funds.