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dereksurfs

Reasons to Consider a Less Selective, Less Expensive College

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Right. And extremely selective schools like the ones snowbeltmom's boys go to may be a good value at 20k or whatever one's parental contribution is, if one is not full pay. Show of hands how many here would pay full price/ $70k/year for them?

 

Both schools are extremely generous with FA and oldest's school stopped taking home equity into account last year which makes it even more affordable.  We wouldn't risk our retirement to send our kids to college and didn't even look at some schools that have a reputation for being stingy with FA or providing most of the FA that they do give in the form of loans.

 

I am too lazy to look up both schools, but for one of the schools it looks like almost 1/2 of the families are full-pay.  Considering how generous these schools are with FA,  these families are not raiding their retirement accounts to pay the tuition. 

 

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(However, both of their schools are very generous with no parent loans need-based financial aid and having two of them in college at the same time also helps a lot.)

 

Both schools are extremely generous with FA and oldest's school stopped taking home equity into account last year which makes it even more affordable. We wouldn't risk our retirement to send our kids to college and didn't even look at some schools that have a reputation for being stingy with FA or providing most of the FA that they do give in the form of loans.

 

I am too lazy to look up both schools, but for one of the schools it looks like almost 1/2 of the families are full-pay. Considering how generous these schools are with FA, these families are not raiding their retirement accounts to pay the tuition.

 

People new to the college application process need to understand the "behind story" to these comments. It is not that the generous with grant $$ universities offer enough aid that parents don't need to take out loans. It is that their offered aid is not in the form of loans in meeting their calculated expected parental contribution. But parents are expected to pay their calculated familial contribution, even if it means taking out parental loans. For some parents, they can pay their EFC. For others, it is a financial hardship that requires loans to make up the difference.

 

The bolded is conjecture. Simply bc schools are generous and don't package FA full of loans does not mean that families can meet their expected contribution. Some? Many? Most? Who knows. I know for our family it really doesn't matter how generous schools are with FA bc they DO expect us to pay our expected contribution based on their FA formulas. Extremely generous schools with an expected contribution of around $30,000 is about $20,000 beyond our actual willingness to pay bc if we didn't have that firm boundary with our kids, it would impact our ability to contribute to retirement, so we would be raiding our retirement acct to pay for college.

 

Every financial aid scenario is family specific. It is really hard to make absolute truths out of generic statements. Dd didn't even apply to schools with non-merit based aid bc we know from experience that there was no point. That is where applying to just see what happens leads to heartbreak. Parents need to understand their expected contribution before the application process.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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People new to the college application process need to understand the "behind story" to these comments. It is not that the generous with grant $$ universities offer enough aid that parents don't need to take out loans. It is that their offered aid is not in the form of loans in meeting their calculated expected parental contribution. But parents are expected to pay their calculated familial contribution, even if it means taking out parental loans. For some parents, they can pay their EFC. For others, it is a financial hardship that requires loans to make up the difference.

 

The bolded is conjecture. Simply bc schools are generous and don't package FA full of loans does not mean that families can meet their expected contribution. Some? Many? Most? Who knows. I know for our family it really doesn't matter how generous schools are with FA bc they DO expect us to pay our expected contribution based on their FA formulas. Extremely generous schools with an expected contribution of around $30,000 is about $20,000 beyond our actual willingness to pay bc if we didn't have that firm boundary with our kids, it would impact our ability to contribute to retirement, so we would be raiding our retirement acct to pay for college.

 

Every financial aid scenario is family specific. It is really hard to make absolute truths out of generic statements. Dd didn't even apply to schools with non-merit based aid bc we know from experience that there was no point. That is where applying to just see what happens leads to heartbreak. Parents need to understand their expected contribution before the application process.

This should probably be a new thread, but your ability to research scholarships is increadible. Do you have a process you worked through. I don't even know how one would go about locating those niche opportunities.

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Right. And extremely selective schools like the ones snowbeltmom's boys go to may be a good value at 20k or whatever one's parental contribution is, if one is not full pay. Show of hands how many here would pay full price/ $70k/year for them?

We would and do.

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Ha. Are they expecting people to borrow against primary residence?

I double checked today for how Stanford calculates. https://financialaid.stanford.edu/site/faq/index.html?question=2_5

 

“5. How does home equity affect the calculation of the parent contribution?

 

The family that has equity in a home is typically in a stronger financial position than one that does not. For that reason, we believe that it is important to include home equity in the consideration of a family's ability to pay for educational costs. However, a large amount of equity is not particularly helpful if the family income does not support use of that equity. In Stanford's calculation of the expected parent contribution, we cap the amount of home equity considered at 1.2 times the total family income.â€

 

Unless you are very wealthy, you do get some break when you have two in at once. Run different scenarios on the college board EFC estimator.

We are on the higher end of below quoted from Stanford based on W2 federal or state taxable income. We’ll definitely run the EFC once a year to see how it goes. (ETA: take home pay is much lower at just above $100k, RSUs bump up the taxable income significantly)

 

“Families with incomes at higher levels (typically up to $225,000) may also qualify for assistance, especially if more than one family member is enrolled in college. We encourage any family concerned about the ability to pay for a Stanford education to complete the application process. If we are not able to offer need-based scholarship funds we will recommend available loan programs.â€

https://financialaid.stanford.edu/site/faq/index.html?question=2_5

Edited by Arcadia
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Right. And extremely selective schools like the ones snowbeltmom's boys go to may be a good value at 20k or whatever one's parental contribution is, if one is not full pay. Show of hands how many here would pay full price/ $70k/year for them?

 

We probably would have had DS22 chosen to go that route. He thought our public ivy state flagship was too good to pass up though. Especially since its rankings in the areas he was interested in met or surpassed many much higher price tagged (for us) schools. The other school he seriously considered would have cost us about $64,000/yr.

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Personally, I don't worry about how one chooses to spend their money whether it's cars, clothing, food, colleges or whatever.  I'm not bothered in the least if one opts to be full pay at any school.  Many do.  I see nothing wrong at all with it.

 

I caution against high debt.  That's a completely difference scenario.  Some debt (IMO) can be a really good investment depending upon what one gets for it.  High debt is very cautionary.

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Personally, I don't worry about how one chooses to spend their money whether it's cars, clothing, food, colleges or whatever.  I'm not bothered in the least if one opts to be full pay at any school.  Many do.  I see nothing wrong at all with it.

 

I caution against high debt.  That's a completely difference scenario.  Some debt (IMO) can be a really good investment depending upon what one gets for it.  High debt is very cautionary.

 

:iagree:

 

In our experience, our EFC varied a lot between schools.  The schools my boys are at state that they want the school to be affordable for every family, and their calculations of our EFC reflect that. 

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Personally, I don't worry about how one chooses to spend their money whether it's cars, clothing, food, colleges or whatever.  I'm not bothered in the least if one opts to be full pay at any school.  Many do.  I see nothing wrong at all with it.

 

I caution against high debt.  That's a completely difference scenario.  Some debt (IMO) can be a really good investment depending upon what one gets for it.  High debt is very cautionary.

 

Most of us probably have some experience either personally or through close friends and family who have suffered as a result of too much college debt. Its a real crisis in America.

 

The measurement in determining what is too high vs. a good investment can get very subjective with many ripple effects that are unknown at the time of decision. For example, what will the student's earning potential be upon graduation assuming they work in a good paying first job? Sure, we can make some projections based upon current known salaries. But what if they decide to work for a non-profit or something with more altruistic value as opposed to going for the highest paying offer? What if they change majors or take a job in an unrelated field of interest? This never happens, right?  :D  lol There are so many variables that can take what seemed like a good investment initially and turn it into a financial burden or crisis later on in young adulthood. I speak from personally experiencing such decisions I made very early in my college life. Had I known then what I know now, those decisions would have been much different. I also know these same decisions affect countless other young people in our society today.

 

Asking an 18-20 year old if its a good investment when they are initially excited about their major and college of choice seems almost criminal in some cases. Should their parents know better? Maybe, maybe not? What if the decision lies more with the young student especially if he/she will be taking out the loans? How much is too much especially when they are short $X to cover basic expenses? Not everything is a clear good/bad choice at these junctures.

Edited by dereksurfs
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Example of this whole process in action at our house:

DD#1 got an email from Tulane. I ran their net price calculator.  :ohmy:  $70k/year (of which $5kish would be an unsubsidized loan for DD & the rest would be a parental loan for us). Uh, nope. Sorry. DD isn't even in their middle 50% of scores, so there is no way she'd get their top merit aid. That was an easy decision to not add to her 'reach' possibility list!

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My understanding is that students (undergrad) can take out Stafford loans whether the parent wants them to or not. That is the only debt a young student can incur on his/her own. Any other loans require parents to co-sign. So while a student may think borrowing beyond that may be a wise investment, parents can disagree and not co-sign. IMO, this is the debt that becomes dangerous because the parents are on the hook. But parents have to have the ability to say, "No." Assuming they even have the ability to borrow. As has been stated many times on these boards, students need to know going in what their financial parameters are.

 

Treading lightly here, but there seems to be a different visceral level of what is considered "fair" when it comes to obtaining college educations for one's children v the types of cars or houses people buy. Rightly or wrongly, there seems to *sometimes* be guilt associated with not being able or willing to send one's children anywhere they want to go. There should not be, but I think it happens. As of now, the system is what it is. The "donut hole" (being caught where one makes too much to get aid but cannot afford to pay full-freight) exists in our current system. I don't know when, if, or how that system will change.

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Most of us probably have some experience either personally or through close friends and family who have suffered as a result of too much college debt. Its a real crisis in America.

 

The measurement in determining what is too high vs. a good investment can get very subjective with many ripple effects that are unknown at the time of decision. For example, what will the student's earning potential be upon graduation assuming they work in a good paying first job? Sure, we can make some projections based upon current known salaries. But what if they decide to work for a non-profit or something with more altruistic value as opposed to going for the highest paying offer? What if they change majors or take a job in an unrelated field of interest? This never happens, right?  :D  lol There are so many variables that can take what seemed like a good investment initially and turn it into a financial burden or crisis later on in young adulthood. I speak from personally experiencing such decisions I made very early in my college life. Had I known then what I know now, those decisions would have been much different. I also know these same decisions affect countless other young people in our society today.

 

Asking an 18-20 year old if its a good investment when they are initially excited about their major and college of choice seems almost criminal in some cases. Should their parents know better? Maybe, maybe not? What if the decision lies more with the young student especially if he/she will be taking out the loans? How much is too much especially when they are short $X to cover basic expenses? Not everything is a clear good/bad choice at these junctures.

 

One can ask endless "what ifs" about anything in life.  At some point, one has to make their best guess and proceed ahead.  There are no guarantees.

 

FWIW, I've personally seen more "good" come out of basic student loans than bad.  Far more.  Sometimes that means just ability to go to school - cc's or trade schools included.  Sometimes that means going to a "better" school.  I see more problems from those who insist upon no debt and often skip college opting to "work first and go to school later," except later doesn't always come and the job is usually a pretty dead end one.  (This is not the same as someone deciding college isn't for them and heading into a "good fit" job.  It's also not the same as getting a really good offer somewhere and having no debt - or parents paying and having no debt.)

 

Some folks figure out how to leverage debt.  Others don't.  I think that will always happen in life. 

 

We all make decisions about major things - cars, houses, travel, life partners, raising kids, etc.  We don't all have to come to the same conclusion even given the same starting point.  Our priorities differ.  Such is normal life.  These threads are good so readers can get a wide range of choices we make with their pros and cons.

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My understanding is that students (undergrad) can take out Stafford loans whether the parent wants them to or not. That is the only debt a young student can incur on his/her own. Any other loans require parents to co-sign. So while a student may think borrowing beyond that may be a wise investment, parents can disagree and not co-sign. IMO, this is the debt that becomes dangerous because the parents are on the hook. But parents have to have the ability to say, "No." Assuming they even have the ability to borrow. As has been stated many times on these boards, students need to know going in what their financial parameters are.

 

Treading lightly here, but there seems to be a different visceral level of what is considered "fair" when it comes to obtaining college educations for one's children v the types of cars or houses people buy. Rightly or wrongly, there seems to *sometimes* be guilt associated with not being able or willing to send one's children anywhere they want to go. There should not be, but I think it happens. As of now, the system is what it is. The "donut hole" (being caught where one makes too much to get aid but cannot afford to pay full-freight) exists in our current system. I don't know when, if, or how that system will change.

 

I don't feel any sense of unfairness with regards to college costs.  I am irritated that it costs so much, and that our system of government and private loans, along with an insistence that people go to college when they're not really getting any more education than a good high school would give them, has backed the increase (in much the same way, imo, that something like the dairy lobby increases dairy consumption and thus supports prices in a way that is not necessarily the best, health-wise or $-wise, for consumers).  

 

For me, it's not so much that we couldn't pay - obviously colleges think we can, and technically we could - but that it really is not worth $50-$70k/yr to get a liberal indoctrination at an ivy league college (or small LAC, for that matter).  Would I pay that much if the best colleges in the country were more in line with my worldview?  Maybe, I guess.  I still don't know that it would or wouldn't be worth the investment, depending on the kid and the major and etc.  

 

I had to explain this to my mom once, because she was appalled that I thought the vast majority of universities were too liberal to be worth our support (and our kids' time).  I finally told her, look, imagine that virtually every good university - Harvard through the U of Michigan through Brown through UT Austin, all of them - had the outlook, focus, faculty beliefs, policies, campus culture, etc. of Bob Jones University.  Imagine that 95% of your options (in our case, 98%, because we're also not religious), including most of the best ones, are so conservative that you would have qualms about buying books published by their publishers, much less pay them to educate your children.  

 

That's the position we find ourselves in; add to that the fact that we'd be full-pay everywhere without merit aid and costs are pretty astronomical, and you can probably see my ambivalence about paying $60k/yr for Princeton.

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I don't feel any sense of unfairness with regards to college costs. I am irritated that it costs so much, and that our system of government and private loans, along with an insistence that people go to college when they're not really getting any more education than a good high school would give them, has backed the increase (in much the same way, imo, that something like the dairy lobby increases dairy consumption and thus supports prices in a way that is not necessarily the best, health-wise or $-wise, for consumers).

 

For me, it's not so much that we couldn't pay - obviously colleges think we can, and technically we could - but that it really is not worth $50-$70k/yr to get a liberal indoctrination at an ivy league college (or small LAC, for that matter). Would I pay that much if the best colleges in the country were more in line with my worldview? Maybe, I guess. I still don't know that it would or wouldn't be worth the investment, depending on the kid and the major and etc.

 

I had to explain this to my mom once, because she was appalled that I thought the vast majority of universities were too liberal to be worth our support (and our kids' time). I finally told her, look, imagine that virtually every good university - Harvard through the U of Michigan through Brown through UT Austin, all of them - had the outlook, focus, faculty beliefs, policies, campus culture, etc. of Bob Jones University. Imagine that 95% of your options (in our case, 98%, because we're also not religious), including most of the best ones, are so conservative that you would have qualms about buying books published by their publishers, much less pay them to educate your children.

 

That's the position we find ourselves in; add to that the fact that we'd be full-pay everywhere without merit aid and costs are pretty astronomical, and you can probably see my ambivalence about paying $60k/yr for Princeton.

I see you use aops and not Bob Jones Math even though the latter is more in line with your worldview. I am guessing you have a mathematically gifted kid who wants something extra in math education because I am sure Bob Jones math would do the job just fine. That's the difference for us between say Williams and a less rigorous school.

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Again, I'm not religious, so Bob Jones is really not my worldview.

 

As far as a math curriculum goes, I haven't found any sociopolitical statements of any kind in AoPS so far; if I did start seeing them, I'd either edit out or find a new curriculum (as I'm sure many people do with various Christian curricula, and I also do with some Christian curricula - we use Classical Writing, for instance).  

 

But I don't think a math book that I use to teach my kids at home is really analogous to a college where sociopolitical culture and instruction and belief are a much more integral part of life than AoPS is in our house (or even than Bob Jones would be in our house).

 

For instance, if Bob Jones were the absolute best math curriculum out there, better than AoPS, you might well choose it for your mathy kids if you could either ignore the religious/worldview stuff (I have no idea if there is any in the math books) or if there were so little of it that you could explain it in context.  I don't know, however, if you'd be willing to do an entire Bob Jones curriculum (assuming they have this?) - including religious studies, history, science, social sciences, literature, etc., where worldview and sociopolitical leanings have a bigger impact. Moreover, I really doubt you'd be willing to send your kid to a Bob Jones boarding school (assuming your worldview is a bad match for Bob Jones's worldview and educational goals). 

 

I get that for a lot of people, the liberalism in American universities is not that far off from what they consider acceptable, or maybe even aligned mostly with their own beliefs.  I'm saying that for us, it is as anathema as teaching history and women's rights and etc. through Bob Jones would be for most of you, except more so.

Edited by eternalsummer
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Again, I'm not religious, so Bob Jones is really not my worldview.

 

As far as a math curriculum goes, I haven't found any sociopolitical statements of any kind in AoPS so far; if I did start seeing them, I'd either edit out or find a new curriculum (as I'm sure many people do with various Christian curricula, and I also do with some Christian curricula - we use Classical Writing, for instance).

 

But I don't think a math book that I use to teach my kids at home is really analogous to a college where sociopolitical culture and instruction and belief are a much more integral part of life than AoPS is in our house (or even than Bob Jones would be in our house).

 

For instance, if Bob Jones were the absolute best math curriculum out there, better than AoPS, you might well choose it for your mathy kids if you could either ignore the religious/worldview stuff (I have no idea if there is any in the math books) or if there were so little of it that you could explain it in context. I don't know, however, if you'd be willing to do an entire Bob Jones curriculum (assuming they have this?) - including religious studies, history, science, social sciences, literature, etc., where worldview and sociopolitical leanings have a bigger impact. Moreover, I really doubt you'd be willing to send your kid to a Bob Jones boarding school (assuming your worldview is a bad match for Bob Jones's worldview and educational goals).

 

I get that for a lot of people, the liberalism in American universities is not that far off from what they consider acceptable, or maybe even aligned mostly with their own beliefs. I'm saying that for us, it is as anathema as teaching history and women's rights and etc. through Bob Jones would be for most of you, except more so.

I think the best answer to this is SWB post on why avoiding liberal universities is misguided, but of course I can't find it now. :(

One of my kids wants an engineering degree. It never occurs to me to worry about the politics of the school. I would worry about religious schools because I would want him to be taught science in its proper sense.

I don't know. Maybe if you are planning on majoring in political science it would be more of an issue, or not.

Edited by Roadrunner

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Wow, I guess this topic really provides food for thought as we navigate the college selection process. I know it does for me. So thank you for all sharing your views and remaining respectful toward other members who may differ. I know we all come from a wide swath of socioeconomic, political, philosophical, religious/non-religious and geographic backgrounds. I do believe its beneficial to hear our varied viewpoints. Everyone has their own journey to travel with their DC and the unique challenges that brings. It does help to hear about other options not necessarily considered.

 

Since cost is a big factor for us, especially while homeschooling on a single income, I've been researching affordable options. You've probably also noticed the thread on attending universities outside the US. I do find it interesting and somewhat frustrating that the cost of education is so high in the US compared to other developed nations. Many EU nations simply make attending their universities more doable for students. Germany is a great example of this among others with excellent free or near free options. While this is somewhat philosophical for those not wanting their DC to attend overseas, there are even good Canadian options across the boarder to consider which could be more affordable as well. 

 

For the majority I would imagine we will make the best of the system we have in the US and find the best fit for our DC in accordance with our family finances. Some of us in the 'donut hole' are definitely feeling the squeeze.  :)

Edited by dereksurfs
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Wow, I guess this topic really provides food for thought as we navigate the college selection process. I know it does for me. So thank you for all sharing your views and remaining respectful toward other members who may differ. I know we all come from a wide swath of socioeconomic, political, philosophical and geographic backgrounds. I do believe its beneficial to hear our varied viewpoints. Everyone has their own journey to travel with their DC and the unique challenges that brings. It does help to hear about other options not necessarily considered.

 

Since cost is a big factor for us, especially while homeschooling on a single income, I've been researching affordable options. You probably also noticed the thread on attending universities in other countries. I do find it interesting and somewhat frustrating that the cost of education is so high in the US compared with other developed nations. Many EU nations simply make attending their universities more doable for students. Germany is a great example of this among others with excellent free or near free options. While this is somewhat philosophical for those not wanting their DC to attend overseas, there are even good Canadian options across the boarder to consider which could be more affordable as well. 

 

For the majority I would imagine we will make the best of the system we have in the US and find the best fit for our DC in accordance with our family finances. Some of us in the 'donut hole' are definitely feeling the squeeze.  :)

 

I know it completely depends on where you live and what is available to you, but we honestly thought that we may only be able to offer two years of community college and two years at our local 4 year college.  Our CC is $2,500 per year for tuition and fees.  Our local 4 year school is $7K per year, including tuition and fees.

 

So, we could possibly have our kids spent a total of $19K for all 4 years, for tuition and fees.  That is very reasonable.  And that may be what my 2nd and 3rd sons will do, provided what they want is available to them with that option.

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I agree, I think if finances are the key consideration, a CC (I know you are in CA) and a guaranteed transfer to a UC is simply the best economic solution. Nothing beats that pricewise.

 

I was also told that some states allow Californians to pay instate tuition. I believe University of Arizona is one. There could be others worth researching.

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I agree, I think if finances are the key consideration, a CC (I know you are in CA) and a guaranteed transfer to a UC is simply the best economic solution. Nothing beats that pricewise.

 

I was also told that some states allow Californians to pay instate tuition. I believe University of Arizona is one. There could be others worth researching.

 

Yes, its called Western Undergraduate Exchange and its 150% in-state tuition.

 

"WUE (pronounced “woo-weeâ€) is the Western Undergraduate Exchange, and it is coordinated by WICHE. WUE is a regional tuition-reciprocity agreement that enables students from WICHE states to enroll in more than 150 participating two- and four-year public institutions at 150 percent of the enrolling institution’s resident tuition. WUE is the largest program of its kind in the nation, and has been in operation since 1987! WUE is not a short term exchange—it is meant to be used for a full degree."  

 

Here are the participating schools: http://wue.wiche.edu/search_results.jsp?searchType=all

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One can ask endless "what ifs" about anything in life. At some point, one has to make their best guess and proceed ahead. There are no guarantees.

 

I think people forget that education is a risk. Federal policy makes those risks higher -- things like bankruptcy policies, lack of protections in case of death or disabilty of student, onerous penalty rates fof falling behind on repayment, etc.

 

The current admiinistration wants to make things even worse (eliminating loan forgiveness for students defrauded by for-profit institutions, requiring students who don't graduate to pay back Pell grants).

 

You really can't predict what a job market will look like for a decades-long career as a 17 year old applying to college, and you have no control over the state of the economy when and where you graduate. Family crises, injuries or illnesses, all sorts of things might happen to complicate your education or career.

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I think people forget that education is a risk. Federal policy makes those risks higher -- things like bankruptcy policies, lack of protections in case of death or disabilty of student, onerous penalty rates fof falling behind on repayment, etc.

 

The current admiinistration wants to make things even worse (eliminating loan forgiveness for students defrauded by for-profit institutions, requiring students who don't graduate to pay back Pell grants).

 

You really can't predict what a job market will look like for a decades-long career as a 17 year old applying to college, and you have no control over the state of the economy when and where you graduate. Family crises, injuries or illnesses, all sorts of things might happen to complicate your education or career.

 

But I would argue that of all investments, education is the least risky. You can lose all your investments in a stock market crash, the real estate bubble can burst, you can lose your house and possessions in a fire or natural disaster.

An education is the only thing nobody can take away from you.

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But I would argue that of all investments, education is the least risky. You can lose all your investments in a stock market crash, the real estate bubble can burst, you can lose your house and possessions in a fire or natural disaster.

An education is the only thing nobody can take away from you.

 

True, but  you can walk away from a bad mortgage or have your car repossessed or file for bankruptcy.

 

You can't walk away from a student loan.  

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Maybe I misunderstood the premise of this discussion.  I thought this discussion was debating the benefits on choosing the more prestigious college over another college that is less money, provided the family could afford both options without depleting retirement accounts and/or taking out such a massive amount of loans that one jeopardizes his/her financial security.   Is that the debate?  Or is the question whether a family should choose the more prestigious college even if it entails financial ruin as depicted in the linked article a few pages back? 

 

 

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Maybe I misunderstood the premise of this discussion.  I thought this discussion was debating the benefits on choosing the more prestigious college over another college that is less money, provided the family could afford both options without depleting retirement accounts and/or taking out such a massive amount of loans that one jeopardizes his/her financial security.   Is that the debate?  Or is the question whether a family should choose the more prestigious college even if it entails financial ruin as depicted in the linked article a few pages back? 

 

I thought based on the title, the discussion was about reasons to choose the LESS selective and expensive school?

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I thought based on the title, the discussion was about reasons to choose the LESS selective and expensive school?

Are we assuming that the family can afford both options?

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Are we assuming that the family can afford both options?

I assume so too. Like comparing between UCB and SJSU for my younger boy for engineering assuming he applies to and get accepted to both. We could afford UCB with dorm full pay which would cost more than commuting to SJSU.

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Are we assuming that the family can afford both options?

 

If the family cannot afford the expensive school, there is nothing to discuss. The discussion makes only sense if both are an option. 

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We could technically afford both options (especially if we only had to do it for one kid) but I don't think it would be worth the cost for us.

 

Now, part of the reason it wouldn't be worth the cost is because we'd have to contribute that much less to retirement for however many years, making our financial position less secure.   However, if we made $2 million a year instead of $250k, would we find it more worth the cost?  Maybe marginally, but still, imo and for our family with our values, not likely to happen on the whole.

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I guess part of the discussion is that there are levels of "afford." There's "the money does not exist," there's "the money exists but is incontrovertibly allocated otherwise," there's "the money exists and could conceivably be allocated to an ivy league education but the trade-off would be significant to the way the family works," and there's "the money exists and is completely surplus anyway."

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Yes, its called Western Undergraduate Exchange and its 150% in-state tuition.

 

"WUE (pronounced “woo-weeâ€) is the Western Undergraduate Exchange, and it is coordinated by WICHE. WUE is a regional tuition-reciprocity agreement that enables students from WICHE states to enroll in more than 150 participating two- and four-year public institutions at 150 percent of the enrolling institution’s resident tuition. WUE is the largest program of its kind in the nation, and has been in operation since 1987! WUE is not a short term exchange—it is meant to be used for a full degree."  

 

Here are the participating schools: http://wue.wiche.edu/search_results.jsp?searchType=all

 

Just an FYI on WUE for those who may not know: it is not necessarily an automatic benefit at the participating schools. They may offer only a limited number of WUE scholarships, and they may be competitive. If counting on WUE, apply early.

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Maybe I misunderstood the premise of this discussion. I thought this discussion was debating the benefits on choosing the more prestigious college over another college that is less money, provided the family could afford both options without depleting retirement accounts and/or taking out such a massive amount of loans that one jeopardizes his/her financial security. Is that the debate? Or is the question whether a family should choose the more prestigious college even if it entails financial ruin as depicted in the linked article a few pages back?

I don't know the exact debate but i thank Derek for starting and you and others for kindly responding because participating here has crystallized some thoughts for me and helped me pre-make some decisions

I also realize I need to embark upon a mad search of available programs for this kid, a la eightfilltheheart--not nec for full rides or close, but just the combination of majors, and enough profs and classes in the major, etc. It's a job.

Edited by madteaparty
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We could technically afford both options (especially if we only had to do it for one kid) but I don't think it would be worth the cost for us.

 

Now, part of the reason it wouldn't be worth the cost is because we'd have to contribute that much less to retirement for however many years, making our financial position less secure.   However, if we made $2 million a year instead of $250k, would we find it more worth the cost?  Maybe marginally, but still, imo and for our family with our values, not likely to happen on the whole.

 

This makes sense to me.  A friend's son a few years back applied to a handful of Ivies and our state flagship.  He was waitlisted at Harvard, accepted at Cornell, and offered a full ride at the flagship.  Had he been accepted off of the waitlist, he would have gone to Harvard (he was full-pay), but he chose the flagship over Cornell as he didn't feel that Cornell was worth the cost.

 

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I guess part of the discussion is that there are levels of "afford." There's "the money does not exist," there's "the money exists but is incontrovertibly allocated otherwise," there's "the money exists and could conceivably be allocated to an ivy league education but the trade-off would be significant to the way the family works," and there's "the money exists and is completely surplus anyway."

 

Maybe that is part of my problem in understanding some of the comments:  "Money does not exist" and "the money exists but is incontrovertibly allocated otherwise" do not fit my definition of "afford." 

 

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Right. And extremely selective schools like the ones snowbeltmom's boys go to may be a good value at 20k or whatever one's parental contribution is, if one is not full pay. Show of hands how many here would pay full price/ $70k/year for them?

 

We would not be able to pay that much.

DD's college was 68k/year. It is a great school, but we would not have been able to afford it without the generous need based aid from the school, plus Stafford loans (plus her small NM scholarship.) No way.

Edited by regentrude
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Maybe I misunderstood the premise of this discussion.  I thought this discussion was debating the benefits on choosing the more prestigious college over another college that is less money, provided the family could afford both options without depleting retirement accounts and/or taking out such a massive amount of loans that one jeopardizes his/her financial security.   Is that the debate?  Or is the question whether a family should choose the more prestigious college even if it entails financial ruin as depicted in the linked article a few pages back? 

 

The main topic under consideration is how a less selective school can be a better choice in certain situations. For many cost is 'one' of those driving factors though certainly not the only one. There are additional reasons the less selective school may offer a student more. Some of those reasons are outlined in two articles referenced:

Reasons to Consider a Less Selective, Less Expensive College

The Benefits of a Less Selective College

 

The findings from the research presented in the first article along with additional research conducted by Google are also consistent with my own experience working in the tech industry. That is, basically, I've not seen a strong correlation between performance in the workplace and where one attended college. 

 

I think 'most' agree incurring massive amounts of debt is a bad thing in the majority of cases. There are outliers where one could see it as a substantial investment in a strongly predicted outcome. For example, to work for XYZ law firm I'll need to attend Harvard because that is the cost of admission. However, for the majority of professions, that level of prestige is not a requirement. Therefore, if it comes at a higher cost to parents and students, is it really necessary?

 

Beyond the financial aspects, there is the toll on the student while attending a school where they are struggling to maintain good grades based on the level of demand placed upon them? Suicide on campus due to extreme stress is a real factor affecting more college students. While obviously not applicable to all, its none the less a problem. The article referenced above included real life cases of those difficulties. The suicide rates at some of these select schools are the highest in the nation. So it is a consideration. Here's another on the topic: Top 50 Colleges With The Most Stressed Out Student Bodies.

 

And there are other factors to consider as well mentioned in the above articles.

 

ETA: Please understand I'm not implying attending an elite school is a bad thing especially for the right fit. In some cases its the best place for a student to be which I think is what most people assume. More Elite = Always Better Option. The point is in 'some' cases that may not be true even if they are accepted. And here are some reasons why.

Edited by dereksurfs
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 I do find it interesting and somewhat frustrating that the cost of education is so high in the US compared to other developed nations. Many EU nations simply make attending their universities more doable for students. Germany is a great example of this among others with excellent free or near free options.

 

Are universities in Germany free or near free for ALL German high school graduates?  Or do they have a threshold exam like France's bac?

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Are universities in Germany free or near free for ALL German high school graduates?  Or do they have a threshold exam like France's bac?

 

Post-secondary education in Germany is free.

 

Any student who passes the exit exam of the college prep high school (called Gymnasium), the Abitur, is eligible to attend university free of charge.

 

Students whose academic preparation does not allow them to pass the exam receive free continuing education in vocational schools, trade schools, and apprenticeships (these are even paid).

 

Nowadays there are now some ways to enter university without the Abitur. I am not familiar with the details.

Edited by regentrude
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Beyond the financial aspects, there is the toll on the student while attending a school where they are struggling to maintain good grades based on the level of demand placed upon them? Suicide on campus due to extreme stress is a real factor affecting more college students. While obviously not applicable to all, its none the less a problem. The article referenced above included real life cases of those difficulties. The suicide rates at some of these select schools are the highest in the nation. So it is a consideration. Here's another on the topic: Top 50 Colleges With The Most Stressed Out Student Bodies.

 

DS19 is 2e. Academically he could probably have handled any college in the country. We're far from the one percent wealthy, but have managed to put enough aside for college that finances didn't have to be the deciding factor. The most important criteria by far for him (and us) was finding an environment in which he felt comfortable. He's at a state university with an overall acceptance rate around 68 percent and is quite happy there.

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Beyond the financial aspects, there is the toll on the student while attending a school where they are struggling to maintain good grades based on the level of demand placed upon them? Suicide on campus due to extreme stress is a real factor affecting more college students. While obviously not applicable to all, its none the less a problem. The article referenced above included real life cases of those difficulties. The suicide rates at some of these select schools are the highest in the nation. So it is a consideration. Here's another on the topic: Top 50 Colleges With The Most Stressed Out Student Bodies.

 

And there are other factors to consider as well mentioned in the above articles.

 

ETA: Please understand I'm not implying attending an elite school is a bad thing especially for the right fit. In some cases its the best place for a student to be which I think is what most people assume. More Elite = Always Better Option. The point is in 'some' cases that may not be true even if they are accepted. And here are some reasons why.

 

 

Just a note to say, I attended one of the schools(with family and friends also who attended) on that list and I have personal friends who attended others, and I have never heard of anyone having issues with stress or suicide. I checked the link out, looking to see if my son's schools were listed, and was astonished to see my school there.

 

I think that the college selection process should be focused on the individual student in light of financial circumstances. The best possible choices available matter.

 

I do not think it should be about elite / non-elite in a blanket statement manner.

 

Clearly, financial provisions are a defining factor. They are not the only factor.

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I didn't quote properly. So sorry. I was trying to respond to the idea that stress and suicide is a negative factor/consideration toward attending an elite or selective school.

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Coming late to the discussion; forgive me if these have all been mentioned before. I can think of several reasons why a student and family might choose a less selective, less expensive college - aside from the obviously lesser financial burden.

The student's academic abilities/personality/interests would make the highly selective school too much of a stretch/not a good fit.

The location of the college is more suited to the student's preferences (close to home, preferred geography, ability to pursue a specific extracurricular...)

The college offers a specific degree program that is exactly what the student wants.

 

I would turn the question around and ask: if the student has the stats to get into a highly selective school and if the family can afford it, under which circumstances would the higher cost be worth it? The answers will differ for different students. I have one kid for whom the highly selective school was exactly the right environment, and another one who will do much better at his only mildly selective college.

 

I teach at a public STEM university, and our students get a perfectly fine engineering or science education that challenges most students and offers lots of opportunities. There are some students who could have attended a highly selective private and have chosen ours for financial reasons. 

The most important factor in the college education is the student; the student gets out of the college education what he puts in. A motivated student with initiative can find good opportunities at a less selective school.

Granted, a small number of students at the very high end may need a highly customized course of study to find adequate challenge and may, depending on personality, find it more difficult to locate intellectual peers. So a top college may have provided them with a better environment, but the pros and cons must be weighed by each family. I believe the choice of college matters far less than we are led to believe. 

 

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 The suicide rates at some of these select schools are the highest in the nation. So it is a consideration. Here's another on the topic: Top 50 Colleges With The Most Stressed Out Student Bodies.

 

Strange list, I would be interested in the metric they applied.

Mizzou which ranks #38 cannot really be considered a competetive, high stress university.

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I would not assume that elite = more pressure.  Pressure depends on the particular school, the particular program within the school, the student's longer-term goals that may be GPA-dependent, and the student's personality.

 

 

FWIW, this list includes our flagship, which will probably be a safety for those of my kids who apply to the Arts & Sciences school (and maybe a match if any of them apply to engineering), as well as the selective college I attended where I recall no significant pressure whatsoever (and did well enough for admission to a top tier law school later).  In retrospect, I should have pressured myself more, from within, but I was a slacker :tongue_smilie:

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Does it matter where you went to school for graduate school or PhD admissions? If a kid wants a PhD in math or physics, would it matter?

Is it different for professional degrees (medical school, MBA, Law)?

Is it all about GRE or GMAT scores?

 

I know not everybody cares to continue beyond UG, but what about those who do?

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