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Top ranked or cheaper college ..?

osmdadosmdad Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
My S is an international student who has been admitted into several colleges for UG engineering. Some of these are ranked higher but relatively expensive while some are ranked lower but cheaper. I know there are are many out there who say it isn't necessary to pay high for an UG degree - one might as well save for the graduate degree.In principle I can afford the expensive colleges, but I am somewhat vexed by the question - how much money is it worth paying for an UG degree, especially if S will definitely go on to do graduate studies?

Some of the colleges he has got in are (I have mentioned the approx tuition fee within brackets) -

1. Purdue (32k) .. Schol uncertain
2. Texas AM (28k) .. Maybe some schol + in-state tuit
3. Iowa State (21k) .. Maybe some schol
4. Texas Tech (21k) .. Maybe some schol + in-state tuit
5. Texas Arlington (20k) ..Maybe some schol + in-state tuit
6. IUPUI (30k) .. Confirmed schol of 15-19k
7. Mississippi State (20k) .. Confirmed schol 12.5k

Would be grateful for some advise keeping in view various factors like cost, reputation, ease of completing degree and location.
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Replies to: Top ranked or cheaper college ..?

  • rdeng2614rdeng2614 Registered User Posts: 1,818 Senior Member
    How much are you comfortable paying per year?

    Tuition does not cover everything though. Purdue's tuition is 32k, tack on room and board, books, etc. and it should be around 55k or something like that.

    What does " + in-state tuit" mean? Your son's an international student so I don't think he qualifies for in-state tuition.

    Also, is there a specific deadline in which you have to tell the other schools if you want to accept their offer? I thought the deadline was May 1, 2016, so why not just wait and see if Purdue gives any scholarship and then decide.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,775 Senior Member
    rdeng2614 wrote:
    What does " + in-state tuit" mean?

    Some scholarships at some schools in Texas come bundled with waivers of additional out-of-state tuition. Whether an international student is eligible for such waivers, or the scholarships, is something to be checked at each school.
  • osmdadosmdad Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    edited October 2015
    I am factoring in another 15k for room/board/books/insurance, but these are more or less same for most colleges. So I am looking purely at tuition costs alone. In principle, I can afford to pay 45k but it isn't as if that figure is insignificant to me.. if you know what I mean. The dilemma is mainly because we have so many options and that's why we want to take an informed decision.

    Some of the Texas schools (Texas AM, Texas Tech, UT-Arlington) have an out-of-state waiver for students who qualify for at least 1k scholarship.. such students need to pay in-state tuit only.

    And yes, as you said, most deadlines are 1.May, so we can wait it out in principle, but we may miss out on other things like housing options which are usually on 'first-come-first-served' basis.
  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri Registered User Posts: 7,889 Senior Member
    Would be grateful for some advise keeping in view various factors like cost, reputation, ease of completing degree and location.

    I'd look at reputation not only in the context of which might increase the chances for acceptance into a grad program, but also which degree would be most beneficial in your home country if something happens and your son isn't able to go to graduate school right away. Are any of the programs more well known than others? If so, I'd take a closer look at them.
  • osmdadosmdad Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    edited October 2015
    @austinmshauri But does the particular UG school affect chances of admission into a graduate school program after 4 years?

    S is interested in either mech. engg or CS.. and all the colleges offer them.
  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri Registered User Posts: 7,889 Senior Member
    I don't believe the UG school matters in most programs, but some majors are more competitive than others. The UG school for finance majors, for instance, does seem to matter. @ucbalumnus will probably know whether or not engineering is impacted and how to check the selectivity of grad programs your son may be interested in.
  • rdeng2614rdeng2614 Registered User Posts: 1,818 Senior Member
    A lot of it is about fit as well. A Stanford Engineering professor for grad school told me that one of the most important things for admissions is Rec letters, not necessarily the prestige of the undergrad.
    Prestigious undergrad will get you rec letters with more weight, but it is ultimately up to the student to be active and do research with a professor at the school.

    Is he able to visit any of the schools mentioned? Does your son have a preference to which school he likes most?
  • osmdadosmdad Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    edited October 2015
    As an international student, he is unfortunately unable to visit the colleges and see things first-hand. Of course, he would like to go to Purdue or Texas AM, but he is also very understanding about costs since I will be financing his education in the US. All the schools that he has been admitted (listed above plus a few more) were selected on the basis that they all have strong engineering programs, though their rankings may vary. So ultimately, he will let me decide where he will actually go.
  • LakeWashingtonLakeWashington Registered User Posts: 9,305 Senior Member
    The traditional engineering disciplines are fields of study in which your undergraduate pedigree is not as nearly as important as your GPA record and the research you conducted and plan to pursue at graduate school. Sure, American universities have an annoying habit of hiring young faculty whose PhD credentials are from big-name institutions, but in the main companies (and government agencies) that fund research labs are not solely swayed by a big name; they want to see what you can produce. Airbus just gave a research grant to small midwestern engineering school. By no means was that the schools first or largest grant it has received in recent years. Opportunities for graduate research in America are ample.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,428 Forum Champion
    edited October 2015
    I disagree with many on CC and believe that grad schools do take into account where the applicant received his/her undergraduate education when reviewing applications. It all comes down to what your family can comfortably afford.
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,497 Senior Member
    edited October 2015
    Which are the "top ranked" ones? Purdue and TAMU, which make it into the US News 50-100 range?
    Or is the OP referring to engineering rankings? If the latter, is he referring to specific engineering specialties, or to a general engineering ranking? What kind of program does his child want?

    It looks like we're talking about net prices that could range from $7500/year (for Mississippi State) to as much as $32K/year (for Purdue, if no scholarship money comes in), just for tuition.

    At any rate, we don't have a very clear understanding of:
    * the final net price differences
    * the true quality differences
    * the differences that truly matter to the OP's child

    So it's hard to give a good answer. Is it worth paying more for a higher ranked college? Well, maybe.
    It depends on how much more we're really talking about, for how much of a ranking difference, and whether the ranking factors really matter to us. Maybe Purdue's or TAMU's engineering rank is driven up by quality in areas that don't even interest the OP's kid.



  • LakeWashingtonLakeWashington Registered User Posts: 9,305 Senior Member
    Of course graduate departments evaluate the reputation/rigor of an applicant's undergraduate college. Particular colleges got their enviable record of producing successful PhD candidates for a reason.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 84,628 Forum Champion

    The nice thing about engineering is that there are SO MANY very good programs in the US.

    This country and each state has a vested interest in having several schools in virtually every state that have quality ABET-accredited eng'g programs.

    The simple truth is that this country has such a high need for high-tech engineers that we can't depend on only a handful of schools to produce them. Heck, the state of Calif alone has over 25 schools with very good eng'g programs.

    The idea that there are only 50ish schools in this very large country that have very good engineering programs is just silly.

    Virtually any established good school, particularly state schools, will have very good eng'g programs. They have to.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 84,628 Forum Champion
    BTW...check to see what GPA is needed to KEEP the scholarship. I think that Texas A&M requires a 3.5 GPA. That may seem easy for a smart student to maintain, but MANY smart engineering students will have their GPA's drop below that threshold.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,775 Senior Member
    Of course graduate departments evaluate the reputation/rigor of an applicant's undergraduate college.

    PhD program admissions are probably most likely to consider the reputation of the applicant's undergraduate major department, often in terms of their own experience with BA/BS graduates from that department as PhD students. Obviously, this may not necessarily match up with published rankings of schools.
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