For the young teen like myself, choosing a post-secondary school can be a major decision, and can have huge consequences. There are many factors that contribute to making this decision, such as campus style, school size, location, and educational opportunities. However, the biggest part of choosing a school, which is often overlooked by many, is cost. Lets take a look at my own college choice of Boise State University, and see what I’m talking about.
My Cost of Education
Boise State is a very inexpensive school for me for a number of reasons. For one, the cost of tuition there is extremely low at just under $6,000 a year. Add in another $1,000 a year estimate for books, and the fact that I plan to graduate in three years, and my degree will have an estimated cost of $21,000, excluding living expenses. Then when you factor in the cost of living in Boise. According to Payscale.com, the cost of living in Boise as a whole is 4% lower than the national average, with housing being 17% lower. That can make a huge difference to the total cost of going to school somewhere. It will cost me about $600 a month to get a nice, one bedroom apartment all by myself that has a great community and fantastic amenities, right on the river and a mile from campus. And it would be even cheaper if I wanted to have roommates, or live in a less upscale place. Also, living in a fairly large city like Boise means that I’ll be able to get a lot of things for a lot cheaper than some small college towns. I’ll be close to a Costco and other big chain stores, where buying things from food to televisions is always cheaper. In total, going to school at Boise State will be not only affordable but downright thrifty.
Cost of out of State Schools
One of the dumber things I’ve seen people do from my high school is go to another states local college or state university. For instance, I have friends that want to go to places like Montana State University, University of Washington, and Northern Arizona University. Lets take that last school for an example. Even with the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) for students that live in the western United States, tuition is still over $12,000 a year for someone from Idaho like myself. Without WUE, a non-resident will pay over $20,000 a year for tuition. That same degree that I would get at Boise State for $21,000 in three years would cost me $39,000 from NAU with WUE, $63,000 without. Starting to see the difference there? Now that’s from a school that has fairly low tuition rates. Now lets look at some that are more expensive, such as University of Colorado in Boulder. UC Boulder is another hot destination for students from my high school, but I don’t think they realize what they’re getting themselves into. For me to go to business school there, it would cost $34,000 a year for tuition alone. For another state’s state school! That degree would now cost me over $100,000 in tuition alone! Then you count in the fact that the cost of living in Boulder is 26% higher than the national average (yikes!), with housing being 84% higher (mega yikes!). That’s just an insane amount of money to get the same degree that I’d get from Boise State.
Cost of Private Schools
Now we need to talk about those crazy things out there called private schools. Sure, some of them will get you a degree with more respect than a degree from a state school, such as the Ivy League’s, but many people go to private schools that don’t have that advantage. Lets look at the College of Idaho. This school is right near Boise, so cost of living will be about the same, but what isn’t the same is tuition. There it’ll cost about $24,000 for tuition, although they do give some pretty good scholarships if you have above a 3.5 GPA and high test scores. But even with these scholarships, the cost of tuition is still more than double that of Boise State. Going to a private school out of state will cost anywhere from $25,000 to a disgusting $60,000 a year. Private schools are so much more expensive, it simply isn’t worth going into that much debt for. For example, lets say you go to a school that costs you $40,000 a year in tuition. You graduate in four years with a debt of around $100,000. However you now have a degree from a great private university that gets you some awesome job! However that job is only paying you $10,000 a year more than the job my BSU degree and I are earning. It’ll take ten years, more once you count interest, for you to be making more money than me after your debt is taken into account. After that ten years, odds are you aren’t making any more money than I am. Your degree is what gets you your first job, but its the experience and recommendation from the first job that gets you the second the majority of times. Most often, going to a private school gets you into loads of debt, and it may never pay off.
Choosing a school isn’t easy. I chose BSU because it was nearby to where I currently live, I have a job opportunity there, and most importantly because its affordable. There are some cases where cost won’t come into play when choosing a school, like if you get a full ride academic or athletic scholarship to a great private school, its obviously cheaper to take that than anything else. Or if someone, most likely parents, are wealthy and are willing to pay for you entire education, then great, take advantage of those opportunities. However, that is only a small part of our population that has those opportunities, and for the rest of us, money is definitely a huge factor in determining where to get an education.