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Top Private or Public (is it worth it?)

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Replies to: Top Private or Public (is it worth it?)

  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,254 Senior Member
    edited October 2
    Short answer to the thread- for most it doesn't matter. For the elite student a public U can be much better than most private U's. Remember- one reason for such variety in US education is that there are many ways to do it and many different students' needs to meet.

    Families need to consider cost/benefit ratios. Is that less costly/free ride to a school worth forgoing a better education elsewhere?
  • 3puppies3puppies Registered User Posts: 1,008 Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus - RE #12 -

    You raise a fair point, but you also conveniently chose USC to compare vs UCLA. If you picked Stanford or many of the Ivies, the net price (zero) is FAR below UCLA.

    @wis75
    It isn't all about the money

    Sure, but in the situations where the money means the net cost is significantly cheaper at the privates, it's a no brainer.

    I am of course biased by my pups attending Columbia and Stanford. With their FA, it made it easy for them to pass on a full tuition scholarship to Flagship State (which because of R&B would have been much more expensive).

    If we were blessed enough to be in a full pay situation at both, I'd admit I probably would have encouraged them to seek the top public schools with merit aid.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,176 Senior Member
    edited October 2
    3puppies wrote:
    You raise a fair point, but you also conveniently chose USC to compare vs UCLA. If you picked Stanford or many of the Ivies, the net price (zero) is FAR below UCLA.

    I chose USC and UCLA because they are roughly similar in admissions selectivity (although certain student profiles are more likely to be admitted at UCLA and others more likely at USC), often compete for the same students, and are both seen as "top" schools.

    However, while Stanford may be less expensive, its minimum net price is $5,000 (student work earnings contribution), not $0, according to its net price calculator at https://financialaid.stanford.edu/undergrad/how/calculator/input.html . Stanford is also more selective, and will not be an option admissions-wise for most of those admitted to USC or UCLA.
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 1,260 Senior Member
    I don't consider USC a good example, a) because it's not quite in the top tier of private unis, and b) they don't meet full need. Also most tippy tops guarantee a "no loan" FA package, which public flagships don't. Frankly there is no comparison (Top private vs public flag) for the quality vs price for those admitted and are low income. In most cases they will always pay less at the very top privates.
  • blevineblevine Registered User Posts: 643 Member
    Having 2 in top privates, I would say sometimes I regret that they turned down partial scholarships to top in-state publics that would have cost 1/2 as much (or less). Then again, sometimes I think how wonderful their schools are in some ways and glad to have given them the opportunity (did not take on debt but could have better funded retirements plans I suppose).

    I think university size matters, there are small publics and large privates. One of my kids is at a very large but top tier private, and the bureaucracy can be a bit upsetting at times. The interest in high quality undergrad education can be poor, but the peers are all very bright, and there are endless opportunities. S2 is in a smaller private, and he gets more personal attention no doubt. Not as famous a school, but should be :-) Both turned down our flagships State Unis, where they could have gotten a decent but not outstanding education with good but not great peers, compared to where they are now. Will it matter ? Consider their grades would have been higher in the state schools, which would have helped for grad school. But the connections of the people and name brand on the resume last for many years to help you get a career started. At least it helped me when I graduated from a large well known private.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,176 Senior Member
    edited October 2
    CU123 wrote:
    I don't consider USC a good example, a) because it's not quite in the top tier of private unis, and b) they don't meet full need. Also most tippy tops guarantee a "no loan" FA package, which public flagships don't. Frankly there is no comparison (Top private vs public flag) for the quality vs price for those admitted and are low income. In most cases they will always pay less at the very top privates.

    Most students will not have the choice between a super-selective private and a less selective public, because they will not be admitted to the super-selective private.

    The USC versus UCLA example was chosen to compare schools that are roughly comparable to each other in selectivity, prestige (both #21 in USNWR national universities), and cross-apply/admit students. Note that USC does claim to meet need (but on their definition of "need"): https://admission.usc.edu/firstyear/prospective/needbase.html .

    Now, if you want to compare Yale to the University of Connecticut, you need to realize that most University of Connecticut students are not getting admitted to Yale, so they have no opportunity to compare financial aid offers between the two.
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 1,260 Senior Member
    @wis75 there will always be small cohorts ( like I mentioned in my first post) at flagship uuniversities that are just as exceptional as those going to very top privates, but my salient point is that one if you can get admitted, and can afford it, it is really no contest. ( e.g. very few will choose a UC over Stanford if money isn't an issue)
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,489 Senior Member
    Our state publics were not particularly strong in the fields my kids were interested in. And their locations leave something to be desired as well. There were OOS publics that were good fits for my older son, but they cost as much as any private university!
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 1,260 Senior Member
    I will say that in-state public flag ships are going to win out on a lot of applicants who are in the $100K to $250K income range, as it can be too much for some to put that much into a private school especially if their child can get a great merit scholarship.
  • MagnetronMagnetron Registered User Posts: 2,143 Senior Member
    With a kid who passed up University of Washington for Notre Dame, I sure hope it's worth it in the long run. It will cost us a whole bunch of extra money. We just keep bumping into unemployed and horribly underemployed UW grads, while the ND grads we've met around here have exceptionally good jobs.
  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie Registered User Posts: 1,609 Senior Member
    I haven't looked at the UW common data set but I suspect ND gets smarter kids than does UW. So I would expect ND kids to do better in terms of the job market. Question would be how well the kids at UW do who had stats that could have gotten them into ND. I know a group of kids who went to various in-state universities who all had stats to get into higher ranked private schools. All of them are doing well with jobs (both during school and upon graduation -- or getting into grad school).

    I don't expect you will find many (if any) parents who would say that they sent their kids to full pay private and think its a total waste of money. Nor will you find many (if any) parents who sent their kids to state schools who will say they messed up their kids lives forever. And there are no test cases so no matter how well your kid has done, things may have gone better at another school. And no matter how poorly things turn out, they may have been worse at all other options at the time. You do the best with what you have and move forward.
  • toowonderfultoowonderful Registered User Posts: 3,428 Senior Member
    @saillakeerie - I agree with your point above. I think that people who choose private schools generally have reasons behind it. I think that people who choose publics generally have reasons behind it. Why does one have to automatically be the "correct" way? My kid could have gotten a high quality education at 1/2 the price we ended up choosing to pay, but we had reasons for picking a more expensive version. Our $$, our kid, our choice.
  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 1,578 Senior Member
    edited October 3
    @JHS But that doesn't mean that a student with an actual choice between a top public and a top private will have widely different outcomes based on which one he or she picks to attend. In fact, the landmark high-quality study of this very question tracking students who in fact had a choice found a minimal difference in economic outcomes for students in that situation.

    I wouldn't call the Krueger studies high quality if that's what you're referring to. The second Krueger study found students who APPLIED to highly selective schools did just as well as those who attended, even if they were rejected, after controlling for other factors. This is stunning, but it's not at all obvious why a student who applied to Harvard and was rejected should be more successful than the kid who never applied, after controlling for stats. I think Krueger's theory from interviews is that kids are better judges of their own potential than the adcoms, and reveal their self-assessment of their potential through where they apply. Hence, we can learn more about a kid from where they apply than where they are accepted or attend. I think many people on CC would find that idea ridiculous.
  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie Registered User Posts: 1,609 Senior Member
    There are a substantial number of kids (and I expect the number to increase as tuition costs are expected to grow faster than inflation) who do not apply to elites for financial reasons.
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