Eliminating a college based on the sticker price is bad advice

September 2, 2010

Eliminating a college based solely on the sticker price is just bad advice.

The proper thing to do is position the parent’s assets and position the student so that they receive the most amount of aid.

As an example, this last year one of my students who took my advice did extremely well. She applied to 7 colleges per my recommendation. These colleges ranged from a local state college, a private college in Oregon and a private college in Washington, plus a few others.

Had this family taken the advice to apply to “cheaper” colleges she would have missed out tremendously! After everything was said and done the out the door sticker price for this student at the so called cheaper in-state college was $8,000 for one year PLUS student loans of $5500 for a grand total of $13,500. She received $7,500 in scholarship/grant aid at the public state college. The in state sticker price is $21,000.

The Oregon school has a sticker price of $47,161. She was offered $25,000 in scholarship/grant money to attend this school. With a difference of $22,000, it puts this school out of reach compared to in state public college.

However, let’s look at the last school. The private college in Washington has a sticker price of $45,300 which is double the cost of the state school. Because this student was properly packaged, this private college bent over backwards to get her to attend their school and offered her an amazing scholarship package totaling $40,750 in free money scholarships/grants. They also offered her a pittance student loan of $3500. Out of pocket cost for this family is ONLY $1,500 per year. That's even cheaper than a community or junior college!

With numbers like that it is no comparison.

Looking long term, had the student chosen the state college she would have graduated with $22,000 in student loans versus $14,000 in loans.

You can’t base a school on the sticker price. The key is to properly package the student so that the college is highly aggressive in recruiting the student.

Now I know what you may be thinking, this student has perfect test scores and perfect grades. Not the case. The key point is proper packaging of the student.

Do not base a school on the sticker price until and only until after ALL the numbers have been crunched.

To many times families believe that state schools are less expensive and do not even consider a private college or university. It’s time to keep your options open.

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