Don’t Limit Your College Choices Based on Their Sticker Prices

college choicesBy spending just a few moments in front of a computer connected to the Internet, students can find out a whole lot about the colleges they’re considering. They might visit the school’s website in order to find out more about the students who typically attend the school, the programs offered by that school and the community in which the school is located. All of this data could prove vital for students who are trying to make an informed decision about the school they’ll pay to attend.

But some students skip ahead to the sticker price for the school, and they ignore all of the other information about the school and what it has to offer. That’s an understandable omission, but students who skip like this may be obsessively focused on something that has little to nothing to do with their long-term success.

Focused on Price

It’s no secret that some schools are more expensive than others. Small, private colleges that have an elite status attached to their names can just charge a little more because they’re providing a product that many students would love to get. When comparing the price of a college like this to a large, state-run facility, the differences can be striking, as the larger institution will typically have a lower upfront cost. The education might be just as good, but students might not be willing to pay a premium to attend a state school like this.

Columbia University, for example, has a sticker price of more than $61,000 when fees, housing and tuition are included, which makes it one of the most expensive private schools in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. However, this institution also provides generous scholarship packages, as 52 percent of students in 2012 demonstrated financial need and had their tuition 100 percent covered.

On the one hand, a school like this certainly is expensive. But if a student can have discounted tuition or a free ride, that school is suddenly quite inexpensive. These are the sorts of calculations all students should keep in mind as they shop.

Unfortunately, according to work done by studentPOLL, 54 percent of students look only at the overall cost of the school. They don’t look at financial aid packages or other discounts. They just look at the cost, and they may not even apply to schools they deem too expensive.


Choosing Colleges