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Decisions- Pay for the on campus experience? Or save and commute.

HazelMayHazelMay Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
CHello, this is my first ever post. It is decision time and we are stressed!
Have 2 daughters 2 years apart.
Daughter graduating this year from HS was accepted into 10 of the schools she applied to (out of 13)

She is an excellent student, level headed amazing kid. We have no savings and cant afford to send her where she really wants to go! :(

Unfortunately the privates , although she received some scholarships are still out of reach for us.
FAFSA gave us no aid at all.

her major now is kinesiology, however she is hoping to go to physical therapy program or orthopedic surgery

So it is decision time, we have narrowed it down to 2 schools. One she can live at home and commute CSULB, the other she will have to live on campus SDSU.

SDSU and living on campus adds an additional $20,000 per year that she will have in loan debt upon graduating.

Knowing she will be in school far more than 4 years, is it worth spending the money for her to have the "college experience" Or should we encourage her to live at home for her undergrad and then transfer???

HELP! We have only a couple days to decide!


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Replies to: Decisions- Pay for the on campus experience? Or save and commute.

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,031 Senior Member
    If the extra cost means needing loans beyond the federal direct loan limit ($5,500 first year, increasing slightly later years), then she cannot take such loans without a cosigner (which means you, which would be a bad idea since you do not have the money).

    However, note that having her continue to live at home and commute is not free, even though it costs substantially less than having her live on campus. You will continue to have her food and utilities costs, as well as commuting costs (though much of these may already be built into your household budget as a continuation from supporting her while in high school).
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,031 Senior Member
    For the second kid, be sure to use the net price calculator on each college's web site before applying.

    If she has top-end GPA and test scores, consider the full ride scholarships (verify on college web sites):
    http://automaticfulltuition.yolasite.com/
    http://competitivefulltuition.yolasite.com/
    http://nmfscholarships.yolasite.com/ (if National Merit)
  • 3scoutsmom3scoutsmom Registered User Posts: 4,378 Senior Member
    @HazelMay if that's $20,000 per year for four years that's $80,000 she can't take out loans for that much maybe you can take out that much in loans in your name but I would not recommend it.

    If she were my child and those were the only two options, she would be commuting to CSULB.
  • socalmom007socalmom007 Registered User Posts: 1,017 Senior Member
    Room and board at SDSU can't be 20k a year? Do both schools have comparable programs for her major?
  • cbreezecbreeze Registered User Posts: 4,507 Senior Member
    Both SDSU and CSULB are huge commuter schools so she may not get the campus experience as some other schools. Many people I know who attended these schools did not make too many friends at college, they mainly stayed connected with childhood friends and the people they went to HS school with.
    If she wishes to broaden her circle of friends, I think a dorm experience will be good. Perhaps you can try it for one year and see if she likes it because during freshmen year, everyone is looking for new friends. After the first year, it's harder to make friends. I think the money will be worth it as UCBalumnus said, being a commuter costs money too.
  • socalmom007socalmom007 Registered User Posts: 1,017 Senior Member
    I went to SDSU, I don't think it has the commuter vibe CSULB does at all.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,031 Senior Member
    Cost of attendance estimates:

    SDSU https://newscenter.sdsu.edu/student_affairs/financialaid/tableundergradcaresident.aspx?

    CSULB https://www.csulb.edu/financial-aid/undergraduate-cost-overview#cost-of-attendance---california-residents
    cbreeze wrote:
    Perhaps you can try it for one year and see if she likes it because during freshmen year, everyone is looking for new friends. After the first year, it's harder to make friends.

    Doing frosh year in the dorm if financially possible but commuting other years to save money is a possibility at CSULB (obviously not at SDSU). However, it looks like it may be financially difficult for the OP to do even that.
  • HazelMayHazelMay Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Yes, we would have to take out loans for her to go to SDSU and live on campus. I know she really wants to go away, but is it worth the debt? I think both schools are pretty similar as far as her major. She will eventually transfer after 4 years to go to PT school or Med school.
  • alombaalomba Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Gosh! I am sooo feeling your pain.!!! Have 2 daughters 2 years apart. A HS senior who has applied to our local University where she received a substantial award leaving us to pay about 12 thousand a year but commuting! Problem is she was accepted to an out of state that would cost us 30 thousand , no aid and she is in love with the school. I mean the out of state school is better academically. Our local university has a much higher acceptance rate and she doesn't want to be associated with it's reputation! Even commuting, we would have to add additional travel costs (bridges, tolls) and I am not sleeping at night thinking about this! My daughter is in a rigorous HS program and wants to continue her studies in a University with A plus academics. The other problem is that she doesn't know what she wants to do! I am telling her that she had better know what to do if she attends an expensive school, and that it is not worth the additional cost if she is undecided! I can handle 12 thousand a year but 30k is pushing it! Help!
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,124 Senior Member
    Don't borrow $80,000, if that is the question.
  • mom60mom60 Registered User Posts: 7,207 Senior Member
    A family member had the same option. She elected for living at home and going to Long Beach. She felt she missed the experience her friends were having. After two years she transferred to a UC. It would have been less expensive and a similar experience for her to have gone to a CC. The transfer process would have been easier and more successful coming out of a CC.
  • sushirittosushiritto Registered User Posts: 947 Member
    edited April 20
    If the decision were mine, and if the schools were HYPSM, and as a parent, I had the ability to pay the loan back without having to live on rice, beans and noodles for the next 20 years, had the job stability, live an austere lifestyle and otherwise sacrifice for my kids, then I'd borrow the $80K, preferably a loan against the house for the tax deduction.

    Dependent on the rest of the financial picture and other debt of course. But, not for SDSU. No disrespect to SDSU alums. Sorry, but that's just me.

    Commute and save.
  • my2caligirlsmy2caligirls Registered User Posts: 635 Member
    I think if commuting is the only financially feasible option you may have your answer. SDSU is on my D18's list and I think room and board falls in the $15k range (maybe $16k for next year). I have toured it with my D and think it delivers a really good college experience - not a commuter school at all - selective and well respected. I'd be currious if room and board goes up or down once out of the dorms - @Gumbymom is the SDSU expert and may be able to comment. Another option to make SDSU more affordable is to try to accelerate her degree - use any AP credit she may get, take a full schedule, and use a local CC for summer school classes. Of course working part time may help defray costs as well. My D18 is also looking at grad school (similar to PT - OT), and if she goes the SDSU route her goal will be 3 years. Commuting is fine just giving you more options to consider as I do think the college experience is valuable.
  • GumbymomGumbymom Registered User Posts: 18,739 Senior Member
    SDSU's cost for room/board for last year was $14,812, not additional $20K/year but you may have include transportation costs. My younger son took Amtrak home several times Freshman year since he did not have a car, but brought his car Sophomore year, so you would have to include parking fees if she plans to bring a car Freshman year on top of the housing costs.

    Also starting Fall 2017, out of area students are required to live on-campus for 2 years, so that may be a factor. Many students like to move off campus Sophomore year, but this doesn't always translate into $$$ savings, since housing is expensive in SD.
    Even though many considered SDSU a commuter school, most students live within the surrounding area so it definitely has a more residential feel.

    SDSU is a excellent school and my son has had a great experience so far, but I would NOT take out a huge amount of loans ($80K/4 years) for any school. CSULB has a very good reputation for Kinesiology and if PT school is in the future, save that money.
    Depending upon the AP classes she has taken, she could opt out of several courses and as stated @my2caligirls, finish within 3 years. Still if you have to take out loans for anything more than the student loans ($27K/4 years), I
    think it is not worth it.

    Being a commuter at CSULB may not give her the full "4 year college experience", if you get involved on campus, you can make that commuter school experience a very positive one.

    Best of luck with the decision.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 9,999 Senior Member
    Would CC allow you to save enough money to afford 2 years at a UC vs. 4 years commuting to CSULB?
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