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I’m “going solo” in this podcast, and I’m covering the six types of colleges out there and how they have an impact on your bottom line.
I’ve developed a classification of colleges, and based on your student’s or your family’s profile, you may see a perfect fit among these classes.
I know some families have already made a decision to stick with state schools because they feel they offer the lowest cost for the value, and it’s simply what they can afford. Others can get a similar if not better deal by going a different route, so let’s break this down.
Elite Private Schools
Harvard, Yale, Stanford and the like fall into this category. All of these are highly selective, with some only accepting 10 percent of the total applicants.
However, these schools have large endowments, and for students who gain acceptance, substantial aid packages could be offered. This can mean a net cost to the student that’s far less than if they were to attend a state school.
The typical cost of attendance for these schools is generally around $60,000 per year, and families that show a high need, that cost could be lowered to $10-$15,000 per year, and even a “full ride.”
Granted, the biggest challenge is in getting accepted, and to be accepted, your student needs to put up a top-notch resume, including the grades and experiences to go with it.
Private Schools that pursue your student
These may offer substantial aid packages, either need-based or merit-based depending on the family’s status or students resume.
Private Schools that may not be in pursuit, but that will accept your student
- Acceptance at these schools is based on test scores, grades, class rank, involvement and other experience.
- For example let’s say your student has an ACT score of 32, which is pretty strong, placing him in the top 10 percent of test takers. At some schools however, that’s just average, so they may accept you, but not consider you for any sort of aid.
- Take that same test score to a college where the average applicant has a score of 25, and the picture changes. Your student becomes a much stronger asset and those schools will open their purse strings to get your student to attend.
This isn’t an exact science, each school offers aid differently, and this isn’t necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition. Schools can still provide some aid, placing students and the respective aid packages from the strongest down to students who have decent, but not as strong resumes.
Competitions also exist in most schools for that sought-after “full ride” scholarship, but again, many, many students will apply with only a handful of these types of scholarships awarded. Ongoing scholarships may be offered as well, which provides any student who qualifies a discount per year on their tuition.
Most private schools leave something on the bill for families to cover – it’s rare to have no net costs. However, they are aware they are in competition with other schools, including those state flagship schools, and will try to align their aid packages to woo strong students.
When costs may be so close in comparison, it’s really up to the family to decide which school is the best fit.
In-State State Schools
Generally the ‘all-in’ costs for some of the large flagship schools runs about $25,000; total cost of attendance at the lowest cost in-state schools comes in around $15 – $20,000 (with a base tuition of $6 – $8,000). If you’re in a higher cost state, that number averages $35,000.
Tuition and costs can even be less for “satellite schools,” or those within the state’s system that are not the flagship school (for example in Wisconsin, UW Madison is the flagship, with a number of other UW schools scattered throughout the state).
Out-of-State State Schools
These will generally charge students the higher out of state rates; schools get enough applicants within their own state’s borders to charge the higher tuition for students coming in from other states.
This is also a great way for these schools to balance their budget, and of course there’s a bit of politics in play, as residents don’t necessarily like to see spots at their universities given to outside students. Colleges have a balancing act in this regard, as there is some prestige if they can claim to be national or global level universities.
State Schools offering out-of-state student scholarships
Given a strong student resume, many out of state schools will offer applicants a scholarship that necessarily negates the up charge for being an out of state resident. For example if you live in Wisconsin, and you want to attend a school out of state, which has $6,000 in-state v. $18,000 out-of-state tuition, it’s possible that they will offer a $10,000 scholarship to nearly wipe out the difference.
Again, the programs are as different as the schools. Some will require a strong academic showing, others may only require a B average to start offering some aid.
Many schools also have reciprocity agreements, as exists between Arkansas and Texarkana Texas, or in the west where there is the Western Undergraduate exchange. Nonresidents are either treated as residents, or receive a discount on tuition due to such agreements among the participating states. This can help these states save on resources or having to build their own university in a certain area.
For students who may have phenomenal grades, elite schools like Yale or Harvard may be a strong possibility, if you show a need. If family income and assets are strong, however, the price tag may prove to be too high.
In these cases, the search may need to turn to colleges that aren’t quite as elite, but offer merit-based scholarships. It’s wise then to do your homework to find out which types of scholarships and aid packages a given school offers
For good students who can demonstrate a high need, need-based aid may be available. Federal aid will also come into play in this case.
The bottom line is that there are opportunities and options out there for families when you do a little research. Even if you want to attend an out of state school, there are schools where the out of state tuition rate is not that much higher than what it would cost to stay local. For example, South Dakota’s rate is $10,100 – a bargain when compared to tuition in California ($36,000), Michigan ($41,000), or Virginia ($42,000).
So get to know your options, learn of the opportunities for scholarships at schools at home and far away from home. You may be surprised to learn what’s affordable given your student’s strengths and circumstances. Good luck in your search!
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