In present-day Chicago, the list of required items for two public school students can easily top $200. And the author of this article, a father of two, has a fresh receipt to prove it: The total at Office Depot last week to outfit a fourth-grade boy and a second-grade girl came to $196.13 before cashing in a $20 coupon.
Though you could argue that any time’s a good time to be rich, perhaps many of the millionaires who support Wealth for the Common Good have grown weary of eating humble pie with those silver spoons.
First President Obama did what many rich liberals considered unthinkable, and kept Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans intact during the 2010 lame duck Congress. Then Obama took tax hikes off the table for a last-minute debt ceiling deal last month amidst a standoff by Republicans. For the 2,500 folks of high net worth who joined Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, it was like shouting into a gale of anti-tax hike rancor and indifference.
At 44, Mark Dinos is smart and successful, the kind of lawyer you want on your side if you’re in an insurance-related legal case. But the Chicago attorney gives himself less-than-high grades for how he prepared financially for his daughter’s college education; she starts at Northwestern University just days from now.
Ask him how he’ll manage $59,000-plus in tuition, room and board and Dinos (pictured) replies with a self-deprecating laugh: “Prayer. Fortunately I’ve had a very good year and can accommodate some of that. But Northwestern is only allowing my daughter to borrow $5,500 at the student rate. (That is actually the maximum amount that freshman are allowed to borrow in the Federal Stafford Loan program.) She got a $5,000 grant, so Mom and Dad are responsible for the other $49,000. And now I have to go borrow money at the dumb parent rate, 8.6 percent.”
You’d have no reason to think that Terry and Laura Truax of Chicago are in any way atypical college parents. Their son Sumner, 22, attends Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he’s double majoring in saxophone performance and music education.
Sumner (pictured) is a talented jazz player in the Lux Quartet, but he didn’t have to land any college scholarships to pay his way through school, nor did his parents apply for any financial aid. Terry, an attorney, and Laura, a pastor, saved for college ever since their son was a toddler, meaning the $42,000 in annual tuition has been manageable — even as two more Truax teenagers plan to start college in the next two years. Terry is a partner at Jenner & Block LLC; Laura is senior pastor at LaSalle Street Church.