SoloMoms! Talk
Jan. 4, 2022

EDUCATION SERIES (Part 3): How to Earn a Debt-Free College Degree w/Shellee Howard

EDUCATION SERIES (Part 3): How to Earn a Debt-Free College Degree w/Shellee Howard

Going to college is not for everyone. But when you decide that a college education is for you or your child, don’t get lost in the shuffle.  

Shellee Howard explains how her child graduated from Harvard debt free.  Listen to learn how she plans to have all her 4 children graduate with a college degree without going into debt.


If a college education is in you or your child’s future:

05:33 - How to talk to your child about their career aspirations.

09:32 - Fill out the FAFSA (or get help doing so)

15:15 - The role purpose plays in kid’s education

Get a free discovery call with Shellee:  www.collegereadyplan.com (mention SoloMoms! Talk podcast)

Watch SoloMoms! Talk TV on YouTube

Website: www.solomoms-talk.com


Your Message Matters by Jonathan Milligan

Free eBook: The Solo Mom Manifesto

How to Send Your Student to College Without Losing Your Mind or Your Money

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Shellee Howard

[00:00:00] J. Rosemarie: If living in purpose is your desire. I would like to recommend to resources that might help you. One at 10, I have a color code. Was leaders break free retreat. It's a seven day inner journey experience for high powered entrepreneurs who live life on their own terms. The link is below, but if you're just starting out and not sure what to do, check out the book, your message matters by Jonathan Milligan. The link is below. It's one of those books that will show you how to use your message to make a difference in someone's life while making a living, check these resource below and start living your best life. Now, today, I'm speaking with Shelley Howard. Thanks for coming and talking to us. Shelly, could you tell us who you [00:00:43] Shellee Howard: are? Absolutely. My pleasure. And thank you for having. My name is Shelley Howard and I am the founder and CEO of college. Ready. We help students not only find the best match, academic, social, and financial fit. We're helping families do it without going [00:01:00] into debt. I have four children of my own. My first attended Harvard graduated. Debt-free second university of Alabama. She graduated debt-free. I have a freshman in college right now. So we're hoping for the same end result. And then I am a high school senior. So like many of your listeners, I am a mother and I was a single or solo mom for about seven years of it. So I really understand some of the challenges that we're faced with when we have to make some big decisions and have to provide. [00:01:34] J. Rosemarie: Yes for sure. And thank you. I want to get into how you became a solo mom, but before I do, I want to ask the question because it's come up quite a bit. Does someone really need a college education? Because that's the ground zero, right? [00:01:48] Shellee Howard: Absolutely. And I would tell you, not everybody does need a college degree. That is our reality. We need people who are plumbers and electricians and beauticians, and [00:02:00] we need everybody. The people who do want to do jobs that needed to agree like engineering or a doctor or a lawyer or a CPA, you have to do it. There's no way around it is the college degree for everybody. Not unless they truly value it and see the benefit of [00:02:20] J. Rosemarie: it. Alright, thank you. And, and so how does a mom, and since we're dealing with. How does a mom navigate the whole college education landscape? You child is interested in college, or you want to try to go to college? What's the starting [00:02:37] Shellee Howard: point. This really depends on the family. If you have a child sons, find out, figure it out really early on. That they love school. They want to do more school. They see the benefit of it. I have families that coming yesterday, I spoke to a lady and her child was four years old. So that's a lot of planning. I mean, good for her. There's some serious forethought, [00:03:00] really, when I tell families that it needs to be part of the discussion is when they have. The seventh and eighth grade, that middle school time. And that's when you can start really figuring out what are their gifts and their talents, you know, what are they, uh, in this world to do? And that's when I like to have discussions with families to start thinking about if your child has the aspiration of being a electrical engineer. And they need to go to college. What can they do to set themselves up, to get into a good college and graduate? Debt-free really what I tell parents to think about is make it fun. They don't want four more years in high school. They need to understand why they need to go to more school and that it is very different than high school. [00:03:45] J. Rosemarie: Then you said something about four year old, I'm guessing. Standpoint. That's not a bad place to start. Mike, if you want to save in a 5 29 or something like that, it might be a good place to start with $10 a month or whatever. Right. [00:04:00] But at the time when they're maybe showing interest or not showing interest, it's a time. [00:04:07] Shellee Howard: Absolutely. And if, you know, if I could tell families when one thing that helped with all of my kids in that is when you were out and about in your area, make it a fun event and go to her college. You don't have to make an appointment. You can actually download an app on your phone and it will verbally guide you through the entire campus. So it's not a big commitment and it doesn't cost anything. So it makes it fun. And I say, you know, have lunch at the commons or spend some time looking at the library or the sports, uh, facility. All of these things may call it. Not as scary, overwhelming thing, but actually this looks pretty amazing. And I might want to check this out. [00:04:51] J. Rosemarie: Yeah, that's a good place to start, but also it could be, cause I'm going to tell you, I made a mistake in this area. I am a person who [00:05:00] believes in the college of education and I wanted my kids to go to college. The two youngest one, especially my oldest. Uh, an undergrad and two masters, my two youngest they've smart as anything, but college wasn't for them. Is there some, because we say college isn't for everyone, but it's usually at a point where you say they're 30 or whatever. And they say, man, I wish I had gone to college. So, you know, I guess I'm trying to find out from you when not forcing them. How do you encourage them to please do look into. [00:05:33] Shellee Howard: So I get the honor of doing it with other people's children, which I have to say is easier than my own. So I do want to give you a little grace there because other people's children, when I work with them and I meant to them, the only thing I'm there for is to get them. So they're willing to pretty much do anything I ask of them, but I am a mom. So I do understand what you're saying, where I think the reality [00:06:00] becomes very important is when you ask the student and say, instead of saying, you must go to college saying, okay, so what is your plan? And they said, well, I'm just going to be a barista at Starbucks. They make great money. Well, at 13 it does seem like Starbucks grease. That makes great money. But as soon as I start talking to. How much money they need to move out of their family home to get a car, the food, to go to concerts. All of the sudden they're like, whoa, maybe that minimum wage is not going to get me as far as I had [00:06:34] J. Rosemarie: hoped. Yeah. Yeah. That's a good angle because my kids looked at me. I have a color dedication. I haven't finished my degree, but I had a job that was well, you know, as well paying. Right. Right. And they looked at that and go, well, you didn't go to college. Then [00:06:51] Shellee Howard: I have the same problem. My, my mom and my dad didn't go to college. I was the first to go and my kids still look at my dad. Who's a [00:07:00] multimillionaire now without a college degree. And I say, that was then, and this is now. How do you argue with that? I mean, back in the day, it wasn't something everybody had. If you didn't get your high school degree, then everybody was like, oh my gosh, that's a tragedy now to compete. Even at target or some of our box stores, they're looking for college degrees. So it's now kind of the new high school degree. Yes. [00:07:33] J. Rosemarie: Yes. Thank you. All right. So let's shift gear a little bit because this is solar moms talk. And I'm going to ask you to tell me how you became a solo mom and what lesson can we learn from? [00:07:46] Shellee Howard: Absolutely. So one, all the solo moms listening, I think you are all amazing. Let me tell you those were some of the most challenging wow years, but I learned so much about myself. So I ended up [00:08:00] being a solo mom. I was married 27 years. And my, um, ex-husband decided to have an affair and you know, it's, at that point, you have to be okay, this is the card I was dealt. And, um, my son was just about ready to start applying to college when it happened. And that was a awful time, in my opinion. So I just really focused in, on this, on my children and how to make sure that that didn't affect them because that wasn't their fault. And by channeling all my energy into them and what is their future? It was a beautiful. Send off for each of my children. And then while they were going to college, I was working on getting my master's degree and really working on me. And I can tell you now I'm happily married two and a half years. So I'm now I'm now a newlywed again. [00:08:54] J. Rosemarie: Oh, that's nice. That's very good. It's great that you find the second wind in our [00:09:00] relationship. That's great. [00:09:01] Shellee Howard: Absolutely. But it is challenging because you know, the reason I ended up being a solo mom is I fed into my, my kids. My kids were my everything, and unfortunately, probably didn't pay enough attention to the other. And, you know, you, you can do hindsight and look back and my kids are awesome. I wouldn't change anything about it. Um, and I'm actually in a better relationship. So I like to be one of those inspiring people that say it's going to get better. It can be quite amazing. [00:09:32] J. Rosemarie: Sure. Thank you for sharing that with us. Okay. So we've decided that we're going to college, but there are several steps. One of them is the free application for. The student's application for what it is and should everyone who's trying to get into college. [00:09:53] Shellee Howard: Absolutely. The easiest way I can describe it is the fast that opens up the gates to [00:10:00] scholarships and free money. So unless you're happy to pay full price for college, if you were happy to ride. Do not worry about the FASFA don't need it, don't want it.

But for those of you who want to go to college without going into debt and getting scholarships grants, I mean, there's so much money out there last year during COVID, our students are in the over $10.7 million in scholarships. That was not even need-based. That was on top of. And the students earned it. And that's what we help families understand is there's a ton of money. There's actually 11 colleges that are tuition free. They don't cost anything. So when a family says we can't afford college, I am like, well, I can tell you there's free. If you are willing to work for it. You know what I mean? It all comes down to, are you willing to work for it? If yes, then I can help you figure that out. If no. I think college is probably not right for you in the first place [00:11:00] that really opens up the gates and anybody, regardless of how much you do or don't make, should complete the FASFA because put it this way, they link to your taxes. So you've already told the government, this is how much money I made. No, all you're doing is linking it to college. They don't learn anything more about you. So. I don't understand the fear behind it. It really takes maybe 20, 30 minutes. So it's not like this scary, scary thing I've done it. This is my 10th year of doing it. And if I can do it, anybody can do it. [00:11:32] J. Rosemarie: Yes. The FASFA is no joke though. That fast before I fill it out several times, myself, I have to say, it's one of those things that frustrate you today. So [00:11:44] Shellee Howard: doing your own taxes. Right. You could do your own taxes and that would make you crazy too, right? Yeah. So that's how I tell people. I say, if you pay somebody to do your taxes, pay somebody to do your FASFA, they're out there.[00:12:00] We don't have to do it on your own. And if you'd rather be there, that's an opportunity, but it can be done as a single mom. Yeah. And I know that it was daunting because it felt kind of weird, but as soon as I got a ton of free money, I got over it quick. [00:12:17] J. Rosemarie: How can someone get in touch with you to use your [00:12:20] Shellee Howard: service? Yes. So college-ready. We help students in so many different ways and the best way to find out about what we can offer is I'm going to gift your listeners. A free discovery call. So if one of your listeners is interested in, they have a question. They want to find out more information about all we can do, then the best place to reach us as our website. That's www.college, ready plan.com on there, you click the free discovery call and let me know that you heard it on the podcast so low. And I'd be happy to get on a college is pouring into you and your [00:13:00] family and give you the opportunity to ask the tough questions. That is the [00:13:05] J. Rosemarie: easiest way. Thank you very much. That college-ready plan.com. Yes ma'am. Okay. So I hope you go on and get the. You can't beat that for sure. [00:13:16] Shellee Howard: Absolutely. There's also a book. If somebody is like, I don't want to talk to anybody, I'm a reader I'm you can go on to Amazon. And the book that I wrote is a bestseller. It's how to send your student to college without losing your mind or your money. And that book is $14. I believe. And you can get that and it will lead you and guide you without ever having to talk to anybody. It's kind of a do it yourself kind of book. Okay. [00:13:44] J. Rosemarie: All right. Thank you for sharing that. So what are you grateful for today? I am [00:13:48] Shellee Howard: grateful for the opportunity of knowledge. I feel like the more I know. The more I can be truly who I'm meant to be. And so this morning I [00:14:00] was reading an article and I just thought, you know, just as simple as it is, I just received knowledge that I'm truly grateful [00:14:06] J. Rosemarie: for. Thank you. Finally, give me one piece of advice for a solo mom listening, right. [00:14:14] Shellee Howard: The best advice somebody gave me is always remember that your child wants to be just like you. And what does that mean when you're doing bath time? And you're sitting next to the bathtub, open up a book, like a heart, like a book book with pages. Put your cell phone in between, and it looks to your child that you are reading a book. Well, what do they want to do? They want to be just like you and read a book. So it is such a simple idea, but in the world of technology, we get so caught up on our phone and use any minute we can to catch up. But unfortunately then children, all they want is to be on your phone. Yeah, that is not going to help them when it comes to testing for college. [00:14:58] J. Rosemarie: Yeah. Thank you. [00:15:00] I really enjoyed our chat. This is one of the things I love to talk about college and college application. There is one thing. Could you discuss your purpose as. Yeah, [00:15:11] Shellee Howard: absolutely. So every student that starts in our program must be willing to do 200 community service in an area that they're passionate about. And that has purpose 200. 200 hours of community service, why it is my mission and my belief that if every teenagers served 200 hours before they adulterated our world would be in much better place, then they will figure out what am I good at? What is my purpose? What was I put here to do? And so I always tell my students be the change you wish to see in the world. Don't talk about it or complain about it, get it done and show why you're here. [00:15:54] J. Rosemarie: Yeah. Sounds like a good idea. They'll either say, oh, I love this. I'd love to do more if they saw, oh my [00:16:00] God. I never want to do that again. [00:16:04] Shellee Howard: That is it when they get their first job where they pick the wrong major, the wrong college. [00:16:10] J. Rosemarie: I love it. Thank you, Sally. You're [00:16:11] Shellee Howard: welcome. It's my pleasure. I appreciate you. Thank you so much.

Shelee HowardProfile Photo

Shelee Howard

CEO, College Ready

Shellee Howard is the Founder and CEO of College Ready and CR Tutoring and Test Strategies. She is a college graduate and is a Certified Independent College Strategist. She is a best-selling author, a member of HECA (ethics organization), and a member of SOFA (Society of Financial Awareness).