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Torn between schools

carly135carly135 154 replies15 threads Junior Member
edited January 2013 in Parents Forum
Hello CC parents,

I need your advise and words of wisdom-

My D applied to 9 schools. She was accepted at her dream school- Penn State which also gave her a $6000 per year scholarship but will still cost us about $35000 per year because it is OOS. She was accepted at an in-state school with half the tuition cost of Penn State but she has little interest in going to the in-state school. We are still waiting to hear from 4 other schools. We will get no financial aid due to high income so she will have to take out Stafford loan and we will have to use some savings and parent loans or line of credit. The cost over the 4 years will be about $140,000 for Penn State.

I like the in state school because of the lower tuition, and it has a program in which she can obtain her BA and MA in 5 years in criminal justice. She was also invited to apply for their honors program. Of course, I also liked Penn State but not for the reasons I just stated.

The in state school does not have the prestige of Penn State. I want her to be happy and not feel pressured to going to the in state school because of finances alone. She would be thrilled to go to Penn State and I know it's a great match for her. We are planning on visiting both colleges again. Secretly, I'm hoping she will like the in state school and think it "good enough" for her to attend.

How do families decide what to do? This is my first child going to college but I have a son who is a freshman in HS so will need money for him to attend college too.

Thanks in advance for your insight.
edited January 2013
63 replies
Post edited by carly135 on
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Replies to: Torn between schools

  • tom1944tom1944 5820 replies198 threads Senior Member
    What does she want to do with her Criminal Justice degree? I had a dual major in CJ and Public Administration 30+ years ago. I say go to the in-state school and save the money.

    It would help to know the in-state school.
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  • newfaithnewfaith 198 replies16 threads Junior Member
    We are in the same boat and we have two others at home who will go to college in the next 8 yrs. We have talked to our DD about the money and how much grad school or med school will cost. We are just now paying off DH school loans and have stressed how much we would like all three of our kids finish undergrad education with no debt. In our family having these discussions has made our daughter realize that her dream school is way to expensive and doesn't really justify the extra$ to attend it. I have been impressed with her taking responsibility in keeping the cost of attending college in the front of her mind.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    Well... the best time for this conversation is honestly before your kids apply. Let them know how much money there is, and what kind of financial aid package (or merit aid) they would need in order to attend before they apply to any schools. I say you split the money you reasonably think you can spend on college between the two kids, and tell her now what she has to work with. If you can't meet the cost with what you can come up with from savings, current salarly, and a Stafford, and still have money left for your younger son, then I say you should tell her she needs to attend a cheaper option than Penn State.

    I will also be honest... I don't think you need to pay top dollar for a degree in criminal justice. A state university will be fine for job prospects in that field.
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  • carly135carly135 154 replies15 threads Junior Member

    She talks about becoming a detective or something related to crime scene investigation but I don't think she knows the extent of what she can do or become with a degree in criminal justice. She took a pre-college program in forensic science and also earned 3 college credits this past summer by taking an Intro to Criminal Justice course at Marist College.

    I don't want to reveal the in state school to keep some degree of privacy, but it's probably safe to say it's not a known college out of my home state.
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  • tom1944tom1944 5820 replies198 threads Senior Member
    I still say save the money. I thought I was going to work in the casino industry in the security area. Little did I realize the only jobs were for retired FBI or connected retired police. I ended up okay career wise but my experience tells me get that degree for the least cost.
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  • collegeshoppingcollegeshopping 1802 replies135 threads Senior Member
    I agree that the time for the financial conversation is before the applications are sent in. I think money should be allocated in a set amount to applied to the college of the student's choice and if loans have to be taken to bridge the difference that is on the student's shoulders.

    On another note, and this is strictly from the view point of a Texas resident and Texas parent, I am sure Penn State is a good school and I don't doubt it is a good match for your child, but I am not so sure the mud slinging is over when it comes to that University and the legal struggles they will continue to face over poor decisions of the past. But the facts remains there is still a mess to be cleaned up there and eventhough the innocent students that continue to be educated there have nothing to do with it, here in Texas (and I suspect elsewhere) the consenus is that a degree from Penn State is a bit tarnished, fair or not.
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  • tjmomtjmom 423 replies38 threads Member
    Also, double check what the requirements are for keeping this scholarship. We have a friend who went to Penn State Law due to the scholarship they offered. Later learned that they offered many scholarships to first year law students, required a 3.0 to keep it, but the law school curve is below a 3.0. So it is mathematically impossible for about a third of the law students to keep the scholarship. She would have chosen a different law school had she known this. The law school my son attends only requires a 2.0 to keep it and curves to a 3.2- so he knows no one that lost theirs
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20966 replies2052 threads Super Moderator
    If you are in NY, (especially NYC), she would be better served going to John Jay (CUNY- as they train the NYPD). IF she is going to become a police officer, she should take the exam (she will need 60 credits at the time of appointment) during college (sophomore/junior year). By the time they call her, she will probably be finished college and go straight to work for PD. IF she is going to CSI, they are still the place to be if she is coming back to NY (and way less $$). John Jay just opened a beautiful brand new building this year and CUNY now has housing.

    I would recommend contacting the college now office at John Jay and inquire about the law and crininal justice program for high school students that is starting in 2013 (saturday program). Free for NYC public high school students. this way she wil try before she buys.

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  • Walker1194Walker1194 988 replies17 threads Senior Member
    I would never spend $140,000 for any undergraduate degree. That is insanity. Just my 2¢...
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  • megpmommegpmom 3093 replies21 threads Senior Member
    If you are going to be applying to a local or state police department - I would suggest going to an in-state school. Federal jobs (DEA, FBI, ATF, etc) are much more difficult to get and usually require some level of previous experience (local, state or military), so again, I would suggest state flagships. Now CIA, in my day, required an Ivy league or top U/LAC degree. That may have changed, but jobs are still very difficult to get, especially due to recent cutbacks.
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  • kayfkayf 4088 replies73 threads Senior Member
    Another vote for CUNY. BTW, NYPD has an internship program for juniors and seniors which has a tuition rebate feature.
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  • BromfieldBromfield 1893 replies43 threads Senior Member
    Can you afford Penn State without parent/student loans? If not, I'd really make it clear to your D what the financial impact of each choice would be for her and for you before you go back and visit the schools again. Would your D graduate debt free if she were to attend the in-state school? Again--if that's the case, point out the benefits.

    Not sure how you can really keep finances out of it, if that's a concern. Sounds like she'd go to Penn State if finances weren't an issue. Hard decisions--I don't think there's any one answer that right. Good luck.
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  • MirabileDictuMirabileDictu 235 replies8 threads Junior Member
    I wouldn't spend that kind of money without being very clear about what I was buying. That's a high price tag for just liking a school more. If, on the other hand, the higher price tag gets you something of value (smaller class size, better program in major, higher graduation rate, etc.), that's a different matter. She (and you) need to clearly articulate what makes Penn State better than her other option before you can decide if it is worth the price.
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  • younghossyounghoss 3168 replies18 threads Senior Member
    previous posters are dead-on that the time for talk about money and college costs are before the apps. Ideally, a student shoulod know how much a parent is willing/able to give to the student for costs. Then, the student can make an informed decision after that. Here, it seems too late for that with the Op. The way our family handled it was to tell student a dollar figure we'd pay, then student could choose any school he wanted, knowing if costs ran over our figure then he had to find the way to pay the difference.

    If the student and family see the college degree as an investment to open preferred career doors(not all see it that way) then be smart about the investment. A heavy student loan debt reduces the standard of living for the graduate for years- and for many, uplifting the standard of living is the reason to graduate college! In that example, graduating with heavy debt negates the reason for attending college.
    Also I recommend you discuss- before the first day of class- if your donation to their education comes with strings, such as requirements for attendance, credit hours, grades, possible legal troubles, etc. Don't be one of those parents that sticks head in sand and assumes all will be ok. Discuss ahead of time possible consequences of possible problems.
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  • boysx3boysx3 4993 replies174 threads Senior Member
    I also wanted to point out that jobs in the criminal justice field do not get the high pay that will be needed to pay back a big loan package....something to think about if your student does not want to live in her childhood bedroom for many years to come.

    Someone who comes out of college owing a lot of $$$ in student loans will have trouble being able to afford an apartment, a car, etc....

    Have your daughter work the numbers backwards.

    What is the typical starting salary--in your area--for a person starting out. For example, what does a rookie policeman make (she would need to work up to a detective position as it is not entry level)--maybe $30,000 ?

    After deductions, her take home might be only about $20,000 (taxes, social security, health insurance contribution, union dues...) or maybe a bit more.

    Then have her look at the tables that show the monthly loan payment amounts for various loan totals, and have her subtract those payments from her take home pay.

    What's left is what she will have to live on. Then show her what rent -- in a place she would want to live -- looks like. And what a car payment looks like. And what utitlity/internet/cable/cell phone bills look like.

    Reality bites.

    Then have her add the amount that she would be paying out on student loans back in to her budget.

    If she is smart enough to get in to Penn State, she will figure out the best course all by herself.

    My only question is why there are only these two schools on the table. Are there any other more desirable in-state options, or would she qualify for merit packages at some other schools that would bring the cost down to the level of the less-than-exciting-to-her state U?
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  • MTnestMTnest 1766 replies27 threads Senior Member
    I agree the money conversation should have occurred before the application process. Both my sons knew they would go to an in-state school unless they received scholarships to lower the OOS tuition cost to the in-state school cost. They knew there would be zero financial aid and we would not take out loans. With this knowledge, they applied to schools who were generous with scholarships. They did not apply to Penn State because Penn State is not known to be generous with scholarships (covering most if not all of the OOS tuition). I am not a fan of the "prestige" factor and the price that normally goes with it.

    The question is are you willing to pay the $140,000 for the Penn State diploma? It sounds like the answer is no. If so, then you need to be upfront with your child and tell her you are not going to foot that bill. If she loves the school now, the visits probably won't change her mind. Good luck!!!
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  • younghossyounghoss 3168 replies18 threads Senior Member
    a part of the reason, boysx3, is that they have not yet heard an answer from 4 of the schools, so at the moment the comparisons are incomplete.
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  • boysx3boysx3 4993 replies174 threads Senior Member
    thanks younghoss--I didn't catch that.
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  • carly135carly135 154 replies15 threads Junior Member
    Thank you CC parents for all of your replies! I knew I could count on your input and advice regarding this matter.

    My heart and head are not in agreement. But, I know the answer is to attend the less expensive school. My D wanted to go to college OOS but I insisted that she apply to at least 2 in state schools. We are still waiting to hear back from 4 schools ( one is in state and the other 3 are OOS). She does talk about becoming a police officer first before moving up the ranks. Why spend $140,000 to become a police officer?! And she is 5'3" and weighs 100 lbs. so not sure if that is a factor in being accepted to a police academy.

    Right now she is stressed out when I try to bring up the discussion of colleges and finances so I will have to wait a while before a serious discussion is held. I agree that Penn State's reputation has been tarnished a bit. Having little to no debt is definitely an advantage to her and us in the future.
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  • kelsmomkelsmom 16075 replies99 threads Senior Member
    Would you spend that much more money on anything else your D wanted ... car, trip, etc? A college education can be had at one of hundreds of great schools, and it is not necessary to spend more than you need/want to spend. I have had the "sorry, too expensive" conversation twice (2 kids). They survived just fine!
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