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UMass Amherst or Tufts or Brandeis - Need to Decide by Friday

MrSmee789MrSmee789 0 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1 New Member
Hey everyone,

I have been accepted as a transfer student from a community college to all three schools and I need to put in my final deposit on FRIDAY.

I plan to major in International Relations or Political Science and eventually plan to get a PhD in public policy. Cost is a huge factor. I will be going to UMass Amherst for free and without any loans and they've put me in their honors college. Graduating debt free is hugeto me.

Brandeis has also practically given me a full ride, but I'll have to take out loans every year (both subsidized and unsubsidized) and might end up graduating with around $25,000 to $30,000 of federal student loans depending on which dorm or meal plan I select.

Tufts is the most expensive of the three. My financial aid and Pell Grant only covers my tuition and I might end up graduating with $30,000 of debt. I cannot live on campus and will need to rent out a room nearby.

As of now, my heart is set on Brandeis as they're offering me federal work-study, the financial aid is awesome and it is near Boston. The small class sizes and close relationship to faculty is also very important to me. However, I have also heard that Tufts is more prestigious and will increase my chances of getting into an Ivy League grad program.

Please help!
edited June 2018
8 replies
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Replies to: UMass Amherst or Tufts or Brandeis - Need to Decide by Friday

  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5017 replies64 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,081 Senior Member
    Commonwealth honors college would be better perhaps if they all cost the same. Free. It’s a spectacular option for the university of Massachusetts Amherst. Good luck and go get the PhD too
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  • HapworthHapworth 495 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 495 Member
    edited June 2018
    Congratulations on your acceptances, OP. I think you know your answer. UMass is a nice school, and it's become much more selective in recent years. Yes, Brandeis and Tufts are perceived to be more prestigious, but if your plans are graduate school, it does not really matter where you go for undergrad. The fact that UMass is a very good school should make this easy. If you maintain high grades, study and score well on the GRE (and whatever subtests you might also have), have some accomplishments, obtain strong letters of rec, and write a clear statement of purpose, you will not have an issue getting into a good grad school.

    I mean, listen, if the choices were, say, The University of North by Northwest by Southeast State University vs. Tufts, I might say that the prestige issue is worthwhile.

    But the heart wants what the heart wants, so if you want me to make a case for either Brandeis or Tufts, here goes. Yes, debt in the upper 20s or low 30s is a lot, but it's not *impossible* to pay back. People take on such debt all the time. I purchased a car, moderately priced in 2006, at 22K or so. It took me six years of payments, but I made them (and I was a poor graduate student at the time)! Paying back 30K in student debt is not at all insurmountable. It's just that given the option, why would one take on the debt?

    I know. I'm confusing you, not helping you. Since grad school is in your future, all three schools will get you there. If this were undergrad only, I might make the case that Tufts will open more doors (only initially). Best of luck. Again, congrats!
    edited June 2018
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  • madgemini4madgemini4 167 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 170 Junior Member
    ^^ but to add to Hapworth's comment about your debt, that's not taking into account the living expenses associated with Tufts (you'll be renting a dump for a lot of money -- there's nothing "cheap" in the neighborhood), and it sounds like there are variables involved with Brandeis's cost to attend.

    You really can't beat free!
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 1799 replies20 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,819 Senior Member
    UMass has my vote. Congrats on getting into three very fine schools.
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  • aquaptaquapt 1948 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,985 Senior Member
    If you're aiming for a doctorate, coming out of undergrad debt-free will help you more than the "name brand" boost will. Grad schools know that Commonwealth Honors students are of the same caliber as students from Brandeis and even Tufts. Distinguish yourself at UMass. If you're concerned about proving your mettle at an elite institution, cross-register for a few classes in areas of interest at the elite private colleges in the Consortium, which are just as competitive and prestigious as Brandeis and Tufts. Your future self will thank you for taking the fantastic deal UMass is offering.
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  • tk21769tk21769 10594 replies27 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,621 Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    If you're aiming for a doctorate, coming out of undergrad debt-free will help you more than the "name brand" boost will.
    I can't argue with the value of graduating debt-free.
    However, keep in mind that most decent PhD programs will be fully funded (with free tuition plus a stipend). Furthermore, your undergraduate student loan repayments may be deferred until after you finish grad school. $25K-$30K in student loan debt is not insignificant, but it's not especially high compared to what recent graduates of many selective private schools (or state flagships) are carrying.

    I'm not trying to persuade you toward one school or another. I don't know how well UMass/honors students fare compared to Brandeis or Tufts students in graduate admissions. However, if I had good evidence that either Brandeis or Tufts had a significantly stronger program, I wouldn't necessarily make student loans a show-stopper. But then ... I'm not the one who'll be carrying that debt. And I don't, in fact, have good evidence that any of the 3 does a much better job than the others at generating government/policy PhDs. You could run a search on the NSF/WebCASPAR site if those outcome numbers matter to you.
    https://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/webcaspar/TableBuilderIndex
    edited June 2018
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  • aquaptaquapt 1948 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,985 Senior Member
    ^^ If it were $30K of debt to spend four years at Tufts or Brandeis, I would feel differently. But for a transfer student to accumulate debt at a rate of $15K/year, vs. an excellent opportunity at UMass for free... that seems like a bigger differential than the difference in value.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5017 replies64 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,081 Senior Member
    If you have been selected to attend the commonwealth honors program. You have to check out the grad schools that group gets admission into. Their nearly all vals and near 4uw types. It’s a fairly big deal at the university.
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