Parent to parent: Making a financial plan for college

Gary, Quentin and Cammy stand with their arms around each other.

Gary, Quentin and Cammy Betts say Purdue’s affordability helped them plan for success. (Purdue University photo)

How an ROTC hopeful found an affordable path at Purdue

Cammy Betts says her son, freshman Quentin Betts, has always been money-conscious.

College costs across the nation have been rapidly increasing over the last several years, so this was a major point of concern for him. A workable financial plan was going to be essential to his planning. And he felt most at peace with a plan involving a few years of military service before enrolling in college.

He always considered affordability first.

Cammy Betts
Boilermaker parent

The process

First, Quentin’s mom, Cammy, and his dad, Gary, filled out the FAFSA to see how much financial aid they might be eligible for. 

“Filling out the whole (FAFSA) form – that’s a lot,” Cammy says. “But we did it together. I tried to have as much information in front of me as possible, our taxes and all of that.” When Quentin and his family ran into questions, they called Purdue. “There was always someone there to answer our questions when we called the bursar’s office or the financial aid office.” 

Next, Quentin did his research and applied for as many scholarships as he could find. He entered two business-focused scholarship contests and was granted funds at both events. Quentin also received a scholarship from Purdue Polytechnic High School, where he was a member of the first-ever graduating class in spring 2021. All of these smaller grants added up.

The decision

When making a list of colleges, Cammy says Quentin did not include out-of-state schools. “He always considered affordability first,” she says. “He didn’t want to pay out-of-state tuition.” 

He ultimately chose Purdue because of its value, affordability and a strong ROTC program. 

Another factor that sold Quentin on Purdue was spending his summer taking a class on campus. He met with an advisor who spoke with him about Purdue’s ROTC program. “That grabbed his attention,” Cammy says. Quentin realized he would be able to join the military and go to college at the same time. 

“I get the best of both worlds,” he says. 

Cammy was over the moon about Quentin’s college plans. She says, “The fact that Purdue has frozen tuition for so long made it very affordable.” With tuition frozen at $9,992 per year for the last 11 years and a commitment to hold the line on room and board rates, Purdue costs less today than it did in 2012, saving students and families over $1 billion. Purdue also is ranked the seventh best value university in the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education 2022 report. 

And a pro-tip from someone who knows: Cammy says, “Start as early as possible, especially if you already know what you want your major to be … You need to know the GPA requirement, the early decision date of November 1, and the apply-by date for different scholarships. To get any type of extra money, you need to be aware of your deadlines.” 

The fact that Purdue has frozen tuition for so long made it very affordable.

Cammy Betts
Boilermaker parent

Family ties and future plans

Quentin says it was vital to his experience that his parents were always encouraging and ready to offer grace. He says she is 90% of the reason he was able to go to Purdue, and she is always ready with a “mom speech” whenever he needs it. 

“One time, I had to wake up at 4 a.m. for selection, which is a tough training competition for ROTC, and I overslept. I was really mad at myself and sad that I was late, and my mom gave me one of her classic mom speeches.” 

He pulled up the text she sent him after his slip-up, which read, “Growth is a process. It comes with disappointments and sometimes missed opportunities, but you learn so much in the process. Allow yourself the grace to grow. I’m so proud of you.” 

Quentin has been growing, small step after small step, from his days attending Purdue Polytechnic High School to his year at Purdue.

After college, Quentin plans to commission and become an active-duty officer. “I’m not quite sure what I want to do in the military. There are lots of different paths to choose from within the Army, so I’ve got to figure that out. But after I’m in the Army, I would like to get into federal law enforcement. That’s a big dream of mine.”