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how to afford college
When we founded Perelandra College 20 years ago, we believed online delivery gave educators the ability to serve people without causing them years of debt.
At the time, and for several years thereafter, educators and administrators from traditional colleges generally scoffed at the whole notion of distance learning. Gradually though, some of them observed that for-profit institutions were charging as much for online as for classroom learning and recognized the profit potential in saving all the costs of classroom space on an earthbound campus.
Traditional colleges such as Arizona State University and Southern New Hampshire University have become mega-colleges by following the online for-profit model.
Arizona State University Online costs $561-$661 per credit, which comes to around $17,000 per 30 semester-credit academic year.
Southern New Hampsihire University offers a moderate tuition of $320 per semester credit for undergraduates, meaning $9600 for a 30 credit academic year.
Community colleges are often still a bargain, both for on-campus and on-line classes. Grossmont College, the closest to me and where and both my older kids attended, is currently only $46 per credit tuition. For a full-time student taking 15 credits per semester -- which should allow graduation from a bachelor's degree program in four years -- that totals $1380 per year (plus some modest semester and annual fees).
The California State Universities' annual undergraduate tuition for full-time, California resident students is $5742. Here is a link to tuition for various levels and programs.
University of California campuses charge $13,104 annual tuition. Estimated total cost for attending you can find with this link.
Private Universities -- at least at what I will call their rack-rates (like the rates posted inside motel rooms but seldom what visitors pay) -- are usually way more expensive than public colleges.
University of San Diego annual tuition for undergraduates is $53,810. Here is a link to estimated total costs per year.
Pepperdine University's annual tuition is $62,390 and here are the estimated total costs.
MIT's annual tuition is currently $57,590 and the total cost (I know because I get their billing statements) is around $72,000, including a shared dorm room and a good meal plan.
All the above would certainly convince most budget-wise families to opt for state supported schools. For example, my older kids took advantage of the community college and CSU option. Not only was the community college inexpensive but the academics were as good or better than in the CSU school.
But private colleges are often not nearly as expensive as they appear. Virtually every private college only makes public their rack rate, which is a starting point for bargaining and what they expect people who can easily afford that rate will accept. That policy allows the colleges to offer larger discounts to the less wealthy. So, don't ever consider a private college's announced price as what you will need to pay.
Private vocational colleges are risky. They may promise much and deliver little for a lot of money. Far too often, the expense requires students to obligate themselves to a large federal loan, which can burden them for many years. Besides, many of the same vocational programs are offered at community colleges for a small fraction of the cost of the private school.
Picking the right college can be tricky. So — keeping in mind that I have spent decades in higher education teaching and advising; that my children are a high school teacher, an assistant superintendent, and a sophomore at a mighty fine college; and that I am a professional writer and editor — feel welcome to consult with me. I can help with admissions including entrance tests and essays; selection of a major; progress toward graduation, and most other college-related issues. All I ask in return is that you subscribe to this publication with a paid option at any level.