How "worth it" is it to pay full price for Pomona College?

How “worth it” is Pomona? I visited campus back in February 2020, and I absolutely love it. I decided to apply RD instead of ED because I want to be able to compare financial aid, and since Pomona doesn’t offer merit-based scholarships, I know I will have to pay full price. However, most of the other schools I’m applying to do offer merit-based scholarships.

Is it worth it going to Pomona with no aid versus going to a school that I like less but is cheaper? (Obviously I haven’t been accepted, and I don’t expect to given how competitive it is, but I’m just trying to weigh my options.)

Can your family pay full price for four years at Pomona?

Nobody can really answer that question for you. Some people would say that having an A5 steak for dinner is worth it. Others would not because it would be their whole monthly food budget.

As the parent of a recent Pomona grad, I would say don’t take out large loans to make it happen. We were pleased with the education our Sagehen got, but there are also a lot of good schools out there and in my opinion it isn’t worth you or your parents saddling yourselves with large debt.

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Not worth it - unless your family has the funds without any hardship, loans, burden etc.

Agreeing with @Corinthian. If your parents find themselves having to endanger their future financial security in order to pay for any college, then it isn’t worth it. But, every household is different. Some live beyond their means and are caught off-guard by college costs ; others, like one of my favorite CC posters, go by the motto of “High income, modest lifestyle.” Only your parents are going to know for sure.

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Pomona is exceptional but would need the rest of your list and associated admits and merit scholarships awarded to know how to answer. Also, I do not know enough about your family’s financial situation to answer. Share and I will tell you. May I assume you are top 10 in your class (if they ranked you) and have a 34+ or 1500+? Pomona and peer colleges reject lots of impressive people.

Reading through volumes of posts on CC, I came up with the following taxonomy of the full-pay families (and near-full).

  1. Those who have enough money not to worry a thing about the ~$80k price tag
  2. Those who saved enough/nearly enough money and generally are doing OK but hoped to avoid the sticker shock at the very generous college, and then had a rude awakening (we are in this category, and we recently accept the ED1 offer from Pomona, despite the annual price tag being about $20k more than we hoped for)
  3. People who didn’t prepare financially for college, and now their resources, despite decent income and net worth, are completely insufficient so the loans are the only option for those no-merit colleges.

If your family is in #1 - yes, Pomona is exceptionally worth it (and if I were you, I’d apply ED2). For #3 - certainly not worth it. If you happen to be in #2 - you will see your comparators and hopefully, it will become quite clear.

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We’re like @Corinthian - a parent of recent Pomona grad (and a #2 in the @ArtsyKidDad taxonomy). Would agree with both of their recommendations. Pomona’s terrific, but in the end it’s not just the college you attend, it’s what you do while you’re there that really matters.

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Simply No! No college is worth $80,000/year. None!

Look at your 5-10 year out statistics and see if it’s worth it.

Church weddings and catered receptions aren’t exactly “worth it” in the strict economic sense either. Neither are luxury cars or flying first-class. Yet, people will spend the money, if they have it.

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Lol, you can have those also but if u you know what your doing put on nice affairs that don’t cost that much also. But I won’t go there… Lol…

I look at it this way. I went to a no name school (but many know of it) after a year of community college due to necessity. All my peers what went to Michigan, Harvard, Yale, Stanford and neighbors that went to Wharton, UChicago, Berkeley… (keep adding names), we all live in the same area of Chicago. All live in the same neighborhoods, kids all went to similar schools, all drive similar cars, etc etc etc.

Look around your neighborhood and ask where people in your age groups went to college… It’s kinda eye opening. My block alone is a who’s who of private to public colleges from all over. Not a great litmus test but it’s surprising… So does it in the “long” run really matter that I went to a local no name public but my next door neighbor went to UChicago and Berkeley? Was it worth it to him to live next door to someone that went to a no name public. Does my neighbor across the street look down on me since he went to Stanford? My Wharton friend talks to me every few weeks since we are friends.

Most 10 year out studies I have seen over the years play this out. Like anything in life, there are exceptions to this rule.

As far as events, (you brought it up… Lol) I and my wife 33 years ago put on our own wedding since we had no one else to do it for us. Mimosa fountain and brunch wedding since it was cheaper. We renting out an old theater with balconies, we hired motown session musicians and played motown all night. Till this day everyone still talks about it. Cost us next to nothing at the time. It’s not the cost of the event but the presentation. We have redone this model on many events… Fwiw

This is all irrelevant really. There are advantages and disadvantages of attending an elite college. In the end it is just a personal choice that only an incredibly small group of people get to make each year… No such things as a silver bullet answer to this question.

The general rule I follow is give your kids (or yourself) the best education you can afford as it’s the greatest investment you will ever make; one that will stay with the person for the rest of their life.

With that said, I would not borrow a ton of money for an undergraduate education in most fields. There are exceptions like studying finance at UPenn (Wharton) and having a career on Wall Street.

To the OP, you have not been accepted yet to Pomona and it’s really too late to pay for that education so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Cross that bridge if and when you get to it.

Personally, as a student I wouldn’t borrow more than say 50K to attend Pomona. If your parents have saved money for your college or have the means to pay comfortably than this is a different conversation.

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We’ve always lived like that - relentlessly looking for deals, doing our own research instead of paying ‘experts’, going for harder and ultimately more satisfying options. We put together a 5-week DIY safari through 4 countries of Southern Africa, $5,000 total for the 4 of us, plus a lot of airline miles. We did medical tourism. We kept buying slightly used cars.
Yet when it came to D’s education, after screaming for 3 days ‘hell no to this overpriced scheme’, we had a sudden change of heart and committed to Pomona. Not because it is the best value for the money but because we hope she will have an intellectual adventure we never could - in our grey, poor country of the former Soviet Bloc. Time will tell whether or not we simply fell for a very expensive myth, having avoided so many of them in the past - but I think if nothing else, the confirmation bias will keep us happy.

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Good advice.