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Stanford vs UC Berkeley Regents

got2havKgot2havK Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
edited June 2012 in Stanford University
I am torn, although in the end, I may not have any choice. Maybe, some can share their rational, objective input here fr CC/Stanford community. Please note that I am not comparing Stanford vs Cal per se, but Stanford vs Cal Regents.

I am lucky enough be accepted to Stanford and Cal with Regents Scholarship, both for BioEngineering. I am unsure yet whether I will go to graduate school or medical school in the future.

Stanford is my dream school, although I get to like Cal very much since acceptance and esp since the Regents decisions, while waiting for Stanford results.

I am from a middle class family with separated parents. The difference between Stanford and Cal for us is ~$30K. With Cal Regents, our family share would be down to our EFC of $6500 which were offered in loans. With Stanford, they double our EFC ($12500), plus student share (work) of $5K, plus non-custodial parent, also middle class, share of $19K, which I am very sure he cannot afford. Maybe, he can afford $5-6K at the very most. I dont understand how Stanford came up with those numbers.

Is it worth the difference, and being in debt, of +$120K over the next 4 years, just to choose Stanford over Cal Regents?

With Regents, I get priority registration, so graduating in 4 yrs would not be a problem. Also, there is also housing priority, so it's a non-issue too. The professor advisor & research opportunities for regents scholars are good advantages too.

Both areas, location and environment are fine with me. I am sure I will adapt well to either environment. I will be a good fit to either one. Stanford is 1-1.5 hrs farther fr home compared with Berkeley, but that is a not a big issue for me.

I realize Stanford is very selective (7% acceptance rate), but Cal Regents is very selective too (~ < 1/2% out of ~53K applicants).

I am really torn. I like both schools, maybe leaning towards Stanford more, since it is my dream univ since I was a child, that actually motivated me to work hard.

Also, what is the best way to appeal to Stanford Financial Aid ~ in person, by phone or by letter? Will they take it negatively if I bring up the Cal Regents offer, or will it not make any difference at all?

Thanks in advance for any input or advice. I intend to post this thread at UC Berkeley forum too. Sorry for the long read...
Post edited by got2havK on

Replies to: Stanford vs UC Berkeley Regents

  • zenkoanzenkoan Registered User Posts: 1,118 Senior Member
    got2havk, I'll take a stab at answering this. I may not be entirely objective, as a Stanford student, but I like to think I'm pretty rational. :)

    Stanford and Berkeley are both really excellent for your intended area of study. No question, an extra $120K in debt at the end of your undergraduate years is a monumental difference. Much as I love Stanford, that's something that needs very serious consideration. I don't have any experience with the financial aid office, but I have heard that they do consider appeals. If you can make an appointment to go in person, I think you should do so. They probably have heard similar appeals from others who are trying to choose between Cal Regents and Stanford, so they will understand where you're coming from.

    Honestly, one of the biggest concerns I would have about Cal right now is the impact of severe budget cuts, with no real end in sight. It sounds like the Regents program tries to alleviate some of the issues those cuts present, with priority registration and housing. And I imagine that engineering within Cal is a relatively protected program compared to some others with less clout. Still, you would need to investigate the atmosphere in the midst of this budgetary crisis. It might be pretty tense all around, but I don't know.I'm sure you can get the scoop on that from the Cal forum, and just asking around there.

    All things considered, if you can get the EFC's down at Stanford significantly, I think the overall experience would be better here under current circumstances. If you can't, another option might be to start here, and if necessary, consider transferring to Cal if you ultimately don't think the debt burden is worth it to you. It's incredibly hard to transfer into Stanford, so the converse probably isn't a realistic option.

    Best of luck with your decision.
  • CatsPawCatsPaw Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    I think you should contact the FA office at Stanford.
    I have a similar EFC and Berkeley costs 1k more than Stanford does even after the regents scholarship. (It seems strange to me that Stanford didn't even come close to your EFC, is there some special family situation?)

    Regents will definitely give you a lot of perks at Berkeley, especially with priority registration this year. You really can't go wrong either way. I wish you luck with the FA.
  • got2havKgot2havK Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    ^^zenkoan ~ thanks much for your insights. 'appreciate it a lot! very well said.

    ^catspaw ~ thanks for the information. i was wondering too:( maybe your efc is combined parents' income. my efc is mom alone, then non-custodial dad, earns more than my mom, but not too much as well. no savings either.

    some ?s pls... do you advise that both my mom and i appeal at FA, or just my mom alone would be enough? also, do you think it's a good idea for my non-custodial dad to come with us (or just with my mom) too? thanks again.

    >> cc stanford & cal community ~ more inputs please...
  • got2havKgot2havK Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    bump 10chars
  • got2havKgot2havK Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    trying to bump this again, to see if others have some more opinion on this...

    decisions in 3 weeks. i really like stanford but im not sure if it's worth $146K in debt (or $120K difference fr Cal Regents) in 4 yrs. i might be totally financially debt-exhausted even before grad/med school.
  • zenkoanzenkoan Registered User Posts: 1,118 Senior Member
    This must be agonizing, but since decisions like this are so subjective and such a function of your personal financial situation and goals, there's really no way for anyone else to tell you what something is "worth" to you. One piece of data you might want to consider carefully is whether you can be entirely certain of graduating from a UC with the degree you want within four years. Further budget cuts are on the horizon, and no one knows what kind of cuts may be put in place in the next few years. If it were to take you five years to graduate from the UC, that would offset some of the cost differential. Ultimately, though, these are both great schools and it comes down to whether you would be more burdened by the "what ifs" if you decline Stanford, or by the large debt load if you attend. You will get a fine education either way, so best of luck in your choice. :)
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,944 Senior Member
    What would it take, approximately, in pre-tax income, to pay off $120,000 in college loans over 10 years? (Because you may want to do other things, like buy a house, raise children, save for THEIR college.) The answer: $40-45,000/year, over $400,000 total. Do you think there's any possibility that a Stanford degree would produce that much more annual income than a Berkeley one? YOU will be the same person, either way, and that's 99% of the inputs.
  • guitarcrazyguitarcrazy Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Our child is going through same decision, and this is our discussion (also posted on UCB forum):
    Doubtful that you will truly get a leg up in getting a job straight out of College by going to Stanford compared to Berkeley. A recently retired vp from Hewlett-Packard who did alot of the engineering hires said they didn't care if the graduate came from UCB, Stanford, MIT, UCLA etc--all good schools, and at high levels of performance what mattered was the course work, gpa, and how much they liked the person in the interview. Hiring degrees were more critical from post grad institutions-and again at that level they were more interested in who was your head researcher and what area you worked under. The $120K difference in the "quality" of Stanford education will not be recouped during the course of your career.
    As far as medicine goes, what groups/doctors/hiring organizations care about is where you did your medical school, and actually, even more important, where you did your Residency/Fellowship (yes, for many areas Fellowship year or two is required, and at that point when you finish no one cares where you did your residency, let alone medical school, let alone undergrad!). Patient's may care that you went to UCSF, Stanford, or Harvard, but most do not know, and will not vie your advice more attention, nor will they pay you more money, because you went to these institutions (in fact most have probably never heard of UCSF, and it is higher rated than most med schools, and it's residency programs are higher rated than most other residency programs...)
    So, if money is no object because you either come from a very low income family, or a very rich one, then who cares? If you are in the vast middle class and money is a consideration, think twice when taking out huge loans for bragging rights and perhaps smaller classes, and a prettier dorm room.
  • phantasmagoricphantasmagoric Registered User Posts: 2,200 Senior Member
    I would suggest that you appeal Stanford's financial aid, make sure there wasn't a mistake, and mention the Regents offer. I know they say that other offers don't make them change theirs, but that's a lie. They do it all the time.

    Now, assuming that none of this changes and you really would have to put yourself in $120k of debt to go to Stanford, I'd say the answer is obvious: go to Berkeley. Normally, I'd say that Berkeley has a lot of disadvantages that would make going to Stanford, even if it costs more, a better option, like class registration and housing. But with Regents in hand, you don't have to worry about those so much.

    Just for perspective, I am a diehard Stanford fan and will argue in favor of Stanford in many threads as being the best choice. I could go on ad nauseum about the many ways that Stanford would be better--but in the end, none of those is worth that much debt. Luckily for you, the alternative is not Podunk State: it's the best public university in the country (possibly the world--Oxbridge are private in all but name) and will offer you a superb education, and being a Regents Scholar gives you a leg-up in facing the difficulties that large schools like Berkeley pose to their students.

    That said, I hope that Stanford gives you a better offer and you come here. IMO there's just no better place. Also, Kal sucks. ;)
  • ewhoewho Registered User Posts: 1,397 Senior Member
    A farmer and his son had a horse.

    One day the horse went away. The neighbors said what a sad thing happened to the family. The farmer said how did you know?

    The next day, the horse came back, and along with two wild horses. The neighbors said to the family how lucky they were. The farmer said how did you know?

    The son tried to train the wild horses and broke his leg. The neighbors said what a sad thing happened to the family. The farmer said how did you know?

    A war broke out, and all the young people had to enlist, but the son had a broken leg, and stayed at home. The neighbors said to the family how lucky they were. The farmer said how did you know?

    Many times we think that we can predict the furture, and we are always right till we are wrong.
  • got2havKgot2havK Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    thanks much for all your feedbacks. much appreciated, and im seriously weighing everyone's opinion. we tried appealing to stanford FA, but the most they gave us is add'l $1300. i still dont understand the FA computation, but reality is closing in. much as i would like to go to stanford (my dream & i worked hard to get in!), we just cant afford it. i guess i have to make the most of my cal regents opportunities, esp the 1 on 1 pairing with professor advisor and research opportunity. cal is not stanford, but it's a wonderful institution as well. (one last time ~ i still wish i can go to stanford. oh, so close!) anyway, thanks again!

    if there are any more take on this, or any related info sharing, keep it coming. and at this point, words of encouragement are welcome as well. lol.
  • NeoTycoonNeoTycoon Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    think beyond graduation and the kind of job you will be looking for. will it pay off the $120k with ease? what kind of interest rate would you get for your loans? Would your anticipated job handle the repayment periods? Do the math and bet on yourself :)
  • mrunderdogmrunderdog - Posts: 532 Member
    Both are great relative to your interests, but if I were in your situation I would pick Stanford. Both offer great prestige, but come on Stanford's, Stanford.
  • GreekfireGreekfire Registered User Posts: 343 Junior Member
    My god. College Confidential can be incredibly blinded by prestige sometimes. $100,000+ in debt is not a position anyone (especially someone considering med school) should be in.

    Go to Berkeley, and think of it this way: you are good enough to go wherever and do whatever you want. Don't compromise your future by taking on all that debt (or having your parents take it on). Berkeley is a pretty cool school and you'll hopefully enjoy it.

    I'm on my iPod so can't find the study, but it turns out postgraduate success is better predicted by what colleges people get into than the ones they actually attend. In other words: it's you, not the name of the degree. I honestly find it ridiculous to discuss the finer points of prestige between two enviable institutions, but when people say things like "It's Stanford!" to justify unnecessary and crippling debt...
This discussion has been closed.