Money Matters: Keep value in mind when shopping around for a college
When it comes to the cost of college, some schools are doing a better job than others in offsetting the initial sticker shock. YNN's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following "Money Matters" report.
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I hope you're sitting down, parents, because the following numbers might make you feel faint.
"The average cost of a public college, one year of public college is $17,800. And on the flip side of that for one year of private college $38,500. And we know that many schools go well over the $50,000," says Princeton Review Senior Vice President, Co-author and Publisher Rob Franek.
While the phrase "affordable college education" may seem like an oxymoron, Franek says otherwise. His staff compared public and private schools on 30 different factors including academic quality, tuition, room and board, and most importantly, financial aid.
"Very specifically, how aggressive was that school using financial aid dollars to offset the cost of tuition for a kid and family," says Franek.
The result is their annual edition of The Best Value Colleges, which lists 150 schools in all. Number one among public schools: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - its first time at the top of the class.
"Exceptional school. Students will tell you about how much they value the interaction they have with faculty, how much class discussion is encouraged in the classroom. But when we start to think about it, it's nearly a $17,000 sticker price but offsetting that with thousands and thousands of dollars for the average student and family," Franek notes.
Also in the top 10 is SUNY Binghamton. In fact, seven SUNY schools made the grade.
"Because they are making school affordable for that average student and family," Franek says. "They are keeping sticker price low but they are providing an exceptional experience for a school."
Franek says one of the biggest mistakes students and families make early on is crossing expensive schools off their list for fear they can't afford it. However, he says, some of the most expensive private schools are also some of the most generous when it comes to financial aid. Take for instance number one on the private schools list: Williams College in Massachusetts, which costs nearly $54,000 a year.
"However, the average aid package for a first year student without taking out dollar one in loans is almost $41,000," says Franek.
The take away from the book, Franek says, is that money is out there and he advises every student to fill out the FAFSA form so that they can access some of that aid.