The Sandwich Generation: Can Families Afford both Senior Living & College?


Can you pay for college and a nursing home? This is a question that is on the minds of many in what is known as the sandwich generation. This means that they are acting as a caregiver for aging parents while also caring for and/or supporting their own children. When their children are ready to head off to college and their loved ones are needing care a support services they are faced with many tough financial decisions. The good news is that there may be funding sources that can reduce out-of-pocket expenses, though some sacrifices may need to be made. Below is research into both senior living and college expenses.

Average senior living and care costs and financing options

This tends to vary by state and by the type and duration of care needed. On average, nursing homes tend to cost approximately $6,200 per month for a semi-private room and $6,900 per month for a private room. An assisted living community may cost an average of $3,200 per month for a one-bedroom unit. If utilizing the services of an adult day care facility, this could cost around $67 per day. There are also many other costs to consider if you and your family decide on home care; This could cost you around $21 per day or more depending on the level of need. For some families, long-term care in their own home is the best option because the costs tend to be lower and they can keep their loved one close by.

Private health insurance and Medicare do not always pay for costs associated with home care. Medicaid, however, does typically cover most costs. The problem with this is that in order to qualify for Medicaid, the patient will have to stay below the poverty line. This means that they may have to get rid of assets that count as income. This could include their home, their vehicle, savings, etc. Some families may opt for long-term care insurance. The problem here is that long-term care insurance often needs to be purchased before the need arises. Many people do not anticipate the need for long-term care until it is too late. This can be a stressful process for many families and requires careful consideration and planning.

Average college costs and financing options 

The cost of college tuition varies by type of school (public vs. private) and by state. There are also many other costs to consider such as meals, housing, textbooks, transportation and many more. The average cost of tuition per year for public colleges and universities can be anywhere between $2,000-$5,000 and double or even triple that for private colleges and universities. The cost of text books and supplies can be as high as $1,200 and room and board could also cost another $5,000-$10,000.

There are many financial aid options available such as student loans, grants and scholarships. Student loans are an option, but will need to be paid back. Grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back. There are many scholarship and grant options available through the college and online through third party websites such as Many of these scholarship and grant opportunities include an application process that requires the submission of letters of recommendation, personal statements and transcripts. Some colleges also give discounts to students who live in the same state or neighboring states, which can lead to additional savings.

In all, being in the sandwich generation can be difficult; But with proper preparation, financial planning and budgeting you can prepare for the needs of your parents and children.