Can't Decide Because of Tuition

I have a GPA of around 3.8, and an ACT of 30. I am pretty positive I could be accepted into both Univeristy of Wisconsin - Madison and University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. I am a Wisconsin, but have reciprocity.

However, I don’t have any help from my parents and will barely have any money saved. I don’t know if it’s really worth it being almost 100,000 dollars in debt for an education. I am planning to major in either Computer Science or Finance.

Is it a big deal to go to UW - La Crosse, UW - Eau Claire, or UW - Whitewater? Will it really make a difference in Job Oppurtunities in the future, or would it make more sense to go to a large school and pay off the debt after I get a job?


You, as the student, can’t even take $100k in loans on your own. Even if you could, or if your parents would be willing to take them out, no, it’s not worth that much debt.

You can only borrow a small amount. You can only borrow $5500 as a freshman…maybe a little bit more if you get a small Perkins loans.

If your parents won’t help then likely that means that they won’t cosign larger loans. And they really shouldn’t…too much debt.

Are your parents low income? If so, then you’ll likely have to attend your instate school and hopefully get great aid.

Did you run any of the NPCs before you applied?

Did any of the other UW’s offer you any merit scholarships?

Without any financial help from your parents, you should look into starting at a local community college and then transferring to UW or UMN, so that way it’ll be closer to a much more manageable 50k of debt.

How much would those other UWisconsin schools cost? If you need $100,000 of debt (which you cannot take out on your own) for Madison, then you may still need too much debt at the others (probably around $80,000). suggests some automatic full ride options for your stats:

Florida A&M
Prairie View A&M

Yes, my parents are low-income and I don’t think Madison will offer any merit scholarships but I definitely have a better chance to receive them for a college like Whitewater. I am not sure if I will be offered them or not yet.

But it sounds like I won’t be able to go to Madison or Twin Cities. Will this affect my future in the long run or not?

If you are low income enough to get a full Pell grant, then the automatic full tuition schools in the list linked above may be doable on a stretch budget, with the Pell grant + federal direct loan + some work earnings to cover the non-tuition costs:

Alabama - Huntsville
Arkansas - Little Rock
Louisiana - Monroe

Unfortunately, you may be too late for some schools:

Alabama - Tuscaloosa (12/15 scholarship deadline)
Howard (first come first served, may have run out by now; ask if interested) lists non-automatic full tuition or better scholarships you may also want to try for.

Madison or Twin Cities may have somewhat more on-campus recruiting; at a less well known school that is not near many employers, you may have to be more aggressive with your own job search. But taking on huge debt will be a bad idea in any case.

You might want to apply to Madison and TC and see how your financial aid falls out --you may get sufficient need based financial aid. But in general, you should go to the best affordable school and work hard to excel in and out of the classroom and have a great college experience. Tons of students choose to go to a lower ranked school for the merit aid and do just fine. In the end, your life and you career will be what you make it.

Have you gotten a financial aid offer from Madison or Twin Cities, or run the net price calculator to get an estimate of financial aid and net price? Madison is about $25,000 per year at in-state list price, but your cost may be lower if you are from a low income family.

I think you need to do the NPC on UW-M’s website. You may find that you’ll get great need-based aid because you’re instate.

Did you fill out FAFSA? If not, do that soon.

If I remember correctly, UW-M gives a LOT of aid to instate low income students. So run the NPC

I doubt TW will work. you may have reciprocity, but you’re still OOS so they won’t be generous with aid.

Do the NPC for UW-Madison and copy paste the results here.

I wouldn’t ask parents who are already financially struggling to take on $100,000 of debt. It’ll be difficult for them to get approved for such a large loan, and they may not be able to pay it all back.

Definitely agree with running the NPCs. Most, if not all publics, give assistance to low-income in-state students.