Future Tuition Worries? Read this!


In December of 2014 Kiplinger created a tremendous chart Best Values in Public Colleges (click for chart) . It compares the tuition of 100 top public Colleges and Universities.  The chart includes  in-state tuition verses out-of-state tuition while including critical data such as admit rate, four-year graduation rate, financial aid consideration and average debt at graduation. Notice how many schools report average debt at  graduation is $20K or less, over four years. $5K per year  in loans  is a very reasonable amount for a student to borrow. This chart is interactive & can be resorted as you heart desires by clicking at the top of the columns! Very FUN for spreadsheet geeks!

Who cares about the Admit  (Admissions) rate?  If an admit rate below 30%,  that means that it is very competitive to be accepted and your GPA and test scores should be in the upper % of the school’s averages, although you should definitely submit an application since statistics and candidate pools change every year.  Never think a school is “safety”, many students have been disappointed by their so-called “safety” schools. Learn what  the admissions department is looking for beyond the published statistics, by  attending their information sessions or calling the department.

Four year Graduation Rate is an important consideration. Many of the best students do not graduate in four years, sometimes due to their own missteps or perhaps they switched majors or withdraw from a difficult class. However, if students are NOT graduating in four years due to the university over enrollment and the college cannot meet the demand, this could be a costly problem.  Sometimes a student will miss out on taking a  required class due to over enrollment. The university may just shrug their shoulders and  advise them to take it the following year, which could delay graduation and mean more tuition bills.

The graduation rate is important in that it reflects the culture of the school, such as:

  • are the students happy on campus and with their overall college experience?
  • are the students studious and goal-oriented?
  • are 100s of students failing out because of a party culture?

If 50% of the students are not graduating on time it is a red flag that you might as well consider tacking on at least another semester of room, board and tuition or earning credits by attending summer school, which will be another tuition bill. A low graduation rate does not have to deter the potential student, they should be aware that their may be obstacles and to prepare accordingly.

Freshman Retention rate is another statistic to keep in mind. Although freshman retention rate is not part of the Kiplinger chart it is another noteworthy statistic for the same reasons as mentioned above. If 100s of freshman students are not returning to campus you need to ask yourself why and would these reasons affect you.

Although a school might have a low freshman retention rate, or graduation rate, if you are interested in the school, you should check it out.  If you like the classes or programs offered, make your decision to attend and be part of the solution for improving their statistics.  Finally, earn your Bachelors degree at a college you can afford. :)