Are public universities the better choice for 2020?

Posted by Neal Schwartz on January 26, 2020

With the increasing cost of private universities are public universities the best choice?

It is so hard to generalize about whether ALL public universities are a better investment than ALL private universities. Making overall claims can be dangerous. Similarly, making a decision on the whole universe based on comparing just a few colleges has its own set of extrapolations that can translate into a poor decision for a student. 

Cost Considerations: Sticker Shock now more than ever

There is a general misconception about the cost of public universities across the board. For many parents that were educated in the 80s and 90s, there was not as much of a difference between an in-state public university and an out-of-state public university. Since the downturn around 2008 and 2009, more students, at least in the Northeast, migrated to public colleges. And along with the pressure on state funding, state colleges began to charge more for out-of-state students to cover their costs.  

Yet something went very wrong. According to an article from the New York Times, with tax revenues plunging, states slashed funding to colleges just as millions were seeking to enroll. Public colleges could not adequately educate the influx of students. As their state subsidies shrank, public colleges either restricted enrollment, spent less on educating each student, or raised tuition. Sometimes, they did all three. 

There are three categories of public and private 4-year colleges: In-State Public, Out-of-State Public and Private. I selected some popular schools in each of these categories and although there are outliers from the ones I selected, it is easy to see the gaps between these three categories.  

In-State Public: $27,000 per year

Out-of-State Public: $51,000 to $56,000 per year 

Private: $69,000 to $75,000 per year

 Data source: College Navigator

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Topics: College Costs, college advice, Financial Aid, University of Michigan, Lehigh University, University of Richmond, Boston University, Binghamton University, Cornell University, University of Delaware, University of Wisconsin - Madison, University of Maryland, College graduation rates

When Grandparents plan to Pay for college, make sure you know these points

Posted by Neal Schwartz on May 31, 2016

When I first started saving for my kid’s college education, we were advised to put the savings in their name.  At the time, this seemed like great advice. As the decades passed, this information was proved to be horribly flawed.  As pointed out in the recent NY Times article: “The Best Way to Help a Grandchild with College” ,  the following facts are really important to know:

  • 20% of a students’ assets are “assessed” in the federal formula for financial aid compared to only 5.64% of parental income and non-retirement assets.  The more money in the child’s name the less the financial aid package.
  • “When”  a grandparent takes distributions from a 529 for a grandchild is also a key factor

 Also, things are different for those dealing with estate planning and tax laws.

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Topics: College Costs


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