June 8, 2014

College Affordability is Dead (If you spend too much on college)

I get irritated when I see headlines that make declarations that are general and shocking such as : "The college affordability dream is dead for these students"
on the Yahoo homepage the article was linked under the alternate title "Working way through college barely possible now"

The article doesn't support the title statement at all as far as I'm concerned.   They give an anecdotal example of one student who had problems.   They say how it would take 5 years working at minimum wage to pay off average net tuition cost.   

I skim through the article and I run into this example that starts :
"Lucy Parks, 18, enrolled at New York University in 2012 ..."

OK hold it right there.    New York University?    Lets take a look at the cost to attend NYU.

Tuition & Fees   $45,138
Living Expenses  $24,000
Health Insurance  $3,439
Total $72,577

NYU is an expensive private university which also happens to be in one of the most expensive cities in the nation.   So you decide to spend over $70k a year on college and its not very affordable.   Wow!   I'm shocked!   

This is like saying cars are unaffordable and then talking about how the payments on your Mercedes CLS class are $1600 a month. 

I'll counter that NYU example with the University of West Virginia.    Lets look at their cost of attendance.

University Tuition and Fees $6,968
Room $4,956
Board (15 meal plan) $4,068
Total for the year $15,992

If you want affordable then buy affordable.   There are affordable colleges out there.

Local public colleges are a lot more affordable than private colleges or out of state colleges.   Tuition and room and board do vary of course and many state colleges run $20,000 to $25,000 a year.   But thats still greatly more affordable than going to an expensive  private school like NYU.    If your public colleges total cost is high then you can also live at home with your parents and commute to the local university.    That way you aren't spending room and board and that often cuts your total cost in half.   Of course your parents still have to feed you so its not free but you save on room cost and eating at home should be cheaper.  You can save even more by going to the local community college.

Yes I know that you may not be able to study at the best film school at your local junior college or state university.    But that doesn't mean college is not affordable.   If you set specific requirements on your university studies like limiting it to only schools that fit certain requirements then thats your choice.    You also definitely need to ensure that the career path you are following is going to pay for the college debts you'll incur.   If that film school degree is going to give you a high salary (it probably won't) then it can make sense to spend a lot to go to the best film school program.  

College can be affordable if people make an effort to chose an affordable college.
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