I have written a couple of posts about different colleges, and which are the ‘best’. The opinion of which colleges are ‘best’ differ based on what the criteria is. One article mostly favored larger, public schools because it was based on what recruiters preferred. The recruiters liked to get the biggest bang for their buck by having access to a large number of students, many of which would be well rounded. Recruiting at one large school made more sense than traveling around to numerous smaller, private schools. What better way to rank colleges than to talk to the people than actually hire college graduates, right? On the other hand, another article favored mostly smaller, private schools because they had a greater ROI (return on investment: comparing total cost of tuition vs expected projected salary), even though this ROI was based on rather arbitrary data 30 years down the road.
Kiplingers recently posted another article ranking colleges. This list includes only private schools, and it is based on how much student debt the average student graduates with. The colleges listed will shock you. (Well, at least they shocked me.) The list is as follows, depicting the college, annual tuition, and the average amount of student debt amassed during their four years in college:
1. Princeton: $49,780 $4957
2. Williams College: $53,140 $7960
3. Berea College: $31,494 $8133
4. Cal Tech: $49,002 $8218
5. Claremont McKenna College: $53,625 $9259
6. Yale: $50,080 $10,717
7. Harvard: $53,227 $10,871
8. Scripps College: $53,227 $11,270
9. Amherst College: $52,522 $11,347
10. Columbia: $57,192 $11,564
Can you imagine being able to graduate from an Ivy League school with less than $10,000 in debt? Don’t just assume that because you make good money that your child will not qualify for financial aid. For instance, Harvard still provides aid to those that make up to $200,000/year!
I had no idea when I graduated college that so many colleges/universities would offer such great financial aid packages. I graduated 20 years ago from Michigan State with a lot more debt than I may have amassed over 4 years at any of the colleges listed above. I can’t speak for other high schools, but my high school pretty much just handed you the financial aid form and said ‘good luck’. There was no encouragement to try for a ‘premier’ college or anything. However, I think it was just expected you would go to a community college, maybe a state University. Many students didn’t further their education at all. I wish information like what was in the Kiplinger’s article was more readily available back in the mid 80s!
So the lesson is, keep a totally open mind when talking to your child about their college education. Do not eliminate any possibilities based on finances. You can always apply to the school and then apply for financial aid. You just never know what aid package you might get. I also suggest really working with your child to obtain scholarships. There are so many out there that nobody has ever heard of, but that is a post for another day.
Did you end up with much student loan debt? Did you go to a private or public school?