To say higher education in America is expensive is an understatement. The average cost of tuition at a public, in-state school for the 2019/20 school year is $10,116. Students at public, out-of-state schools can expect to pay more than double that, at $22,577, while those attending private schools are looking at up to $36,000 in annual tuition and fees. More prestigious schools such as Yale, Princeton and Harvard charge fees in excess of $50,000.
Bearing these prices in mind, it’s no wonder the majority of US high school graduates are recognizing the perks of community college, online universities and state colleges over their more prestigious counterparts.
For Many, the Value Is Simply Not There
“I’m a money coach for high net-worth individuals and a dad with two kids in college,” Rocky Lalvani, MBA, enrolled IRS agent, and money coach tells Parentology. “I told my kids unless the ivy league schools were going to give them money, I wouldn’t pay for them. I don’t see the value in spending over $300,000 for an undergraduate degree.” His rationale behind this sentiment? “The value doesn’t equal the cost,” he says, “and there are cheaper ways to get a great education.”
Will Geiger, the founder of Scholarships360 and a veteran of the admissions process at a private Connecticut high school and Kenyon College, echoes this sentiment. “Community colleges, college alternatives boot camps, online degrees, and state universities all offer students a cheaper, and often faster, pathway to a high-quality career,” Geiger tells Parentology. “More than ever, high school students are concerned about connecting to a meaningful, high-paying career and a prestigious, expensive college isn’t the only way to get there.”
Increased Awareness of the Student Loan Crisis Has Families Rethinking Higher Education
Many experts cite increased awareness of the nation’s student debt problems as a significant determining factor in their reasoning for selecting state and community colleges over ivy league institutions. With the student loan debt crisis at an astounding $1.6 trillion, Melissa Anne Cox, certified financial planner and college funding and student loan advisor, feels it’s her responsibility to help students and their families take a proactive approach to college cost planning.
“Traditional reactive college planning has directly resulted in our current debt crisis,” Cox tells Parentology. “Families are beginning to recognize having their students graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in loans is no longer a good return on their college investment. Especially when graduates struggle to maintain monthly student loan payments, in addition to all the new ‘adult’ expenses.
“Moreover,” she explains, “people 50 and older are at the top of the fastest-growing group of student loan borrowers … and many are at the point that they are delaying retirement to pay for college educations. By empowering families to make smarter college buying decisions, we are able to help families create comprehensive college funding plans for all four years of college and save for a comfortable retirement at the same time.”
Venkates Swaminathan, founder and CEO of LifeLaunchr, a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, perfectly sums up the reasoning behind the increasing preference for students to attend community, state, and online colleges over prestigious universities. “Now more than ever, students value efficiency over everything else because the cheapest, most effective way to earn their degree means less debt and student loans,” he tells Parentology. “[Ultimately], students are choosing options like community college and state schools over ivy league universities because they’re looking to save money.”
Perks of Community College — Sources
Rocky Lalvani, MBA, Enrolled Agent IRS, and Money Coach
Will Geiger, founder of Scholarships360, veteran of the admissions process at a private Connecticut high school and Kenyon College
Melissa Anne Cox, Certified Financial Planner, College Funding and Student Loan Advisor, Fetterman Investments
Venkates Swaminathan, founder and CEO of LifeLaunchr,