State U vs. Private U


It may seem obvious that attending a State University will save you BIG tuition dollars, but there are circumstances, such as being an out of state resident,  where you may end up paying as much or more than if you went to a private college.

Why? Many of the large flagship universities have become over enrolled. This is creating a bottle neck of students registering for required courses. Often, the student misses out on taking required coursework sequences (i.e., Bio 101 in the fall, Bio 102 in the spring), then graduation might be delayed by a year or more. This is a large problem with the California state colleges.

Factoring in a 5th year of college is not a bad idea, especially if the student is  disorganized or a “late bloomer”.

For example:

2012         Tuition/Rm/ Board         Annual tuition                  Total*

Rutgers           NJ Resident           $25K  x  4yrs= $100K + 5yr=$125,000

Penn State     Out of State            $38K  x  4yrs= $152K + 5yr= $190,000

Marist (NY)    Private College       $43K  x 4yrs                         = $172,000

* Tuition figures were taken from the college’s websites. Note that I rounded up for ease and that the room and board expenses are often estimates since dorm room rates vary depending on single, double and triples or newer buildings typically cost more than older dorms and meal plan selections vary.

Summary Do not rule out private schools due to the sticker price. With further investigation, you might find that it is a better value, as well as there may be an opportunity to be awarded Merit scholarships and greater financial aid packages that are not available at the state school.

Every college is required to provide a Net Price Calculator which helps students and parents learn what the financial aid that might be available to them at that specific college. To utilize the Net Price Calculator, you go to the college website’s financial aid page. You will need to input information from your tax returns, earnings statements (W2 forms, recent paycheck stubs) and bank statements. Go beyond the sticker price and the actual tuition bill may be within your reach.