Ivy or Free Ride

Just curious on opinions. Is 80,000 debt worth Yale, Columbia or Penn. or a free ride to Pitt, Fordham or UDel a smart choice. These are my sons choices and it going to be a difficult one. He wants to major in some form of biology with the hopes of doing medical research. Any input is appreciated.

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What can you contribute/year? Do you mean you would need to take out $80k/year in loans or $80k total?

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$80,000 in debt is a lot. I also assume you would be draining your college fund if you have one. Pitt is a major medical research institution . UPMC is a statewide medical system and it is huge. It would be a great option.

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Congratulations to your son on these wonderful acceptances. In terms of debt, I believe student undergraduate loans are capped at $27,000 or thereabouts - so you would need to take out the remainder of the loans or co-sign his loans. Before taking that step you need to be comfortable with the idea that in the event of unforeseen circumstances you will be responsible for re-paying the money.

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It would be appx. 80,000 total. We can help with 20,000 so we would have to co-sign for the difference. We know we would be responsible if he can’t pay. Are we uncomfortable with that idea. A little.

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Yep, Pitt is well-known for medical research. If he is sure about his path, going $80K in debt just for a name doesn’t make a lot of sense. I presume you would save a fair bit of money as well, which he/you could invest.

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Besides being comfortable, it’s more that I don’t really see the upside of that expenditure given the chosen career path.

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Biology as a major doesn’t usually net one a high paying jobs. Biology “researchers” with bachelors degrees are usually the lowest paid with really little advancement potential.

@WayOutWestMom am I correct.

I would suggest you choose one of the free options unless you really want him to have those loans.

I’d go with the free ride . All of those institutions are respectable, and Pitt offers him the same opportunities as the Ivies. He can go to an Ivy for grad school, for free. Of if he chooses med school, you’ll need that money or borrowing power.

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Thanks for the clarification; you would be surprised how many families I work with who are trying to figure out how to borrow $200-300k for undergrad. I personally wouldn’t advise $80k in debt for a name, especially with so many great research options. Others have mentioned Pitt, UDel also has opportunities with facilities like Dupont Children’s.

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Yea the problem is he is not 100% set in biology. He is interested is so many things. Probably too many. He narrowed it down to biology or biochemistry something along those lines because that is the subject he most enjoyed in HS.

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It’s pretty amazing how perceptions of prestige differ depending on what circle you are in. On a med student forum, someone was having trouble deciding whether to pay 60K total for a Yale MD degree or 232K total for a Pitt MD degree. That’s how highly esteemed Pitt is in the medical field.

BTW, almost everyone advised the poster to take the money and run, which is what he did, but you did see some arguments for Pitt (which was deemed stronger in some specialties).

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What are his other interests?

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Is he in the Honors program for Pitt or UDel?

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Thoughts on Fordham? He wants to be in an urban area. Fordham Lincoln Center also offers him a 20,000 stipend. He applied for Natural Sciences there.

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Pitt is in a city (as its name implies).

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Yes both

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I think he should go to Pitt. He may have every intention of paying back the loan himself, but once he covers his living expenses it will likely be very hard. Does he plan to live at home while paying off the loan (my guess is no)? It won’t get any easier if he attends a PhD program later on.

My daughter was a biology major who is heading back to school in the near future. She’s actually in a gap year program (related to her major) that pays relatively well, but she would have complained if she had to pay back close to $700 a month. Right now she lives in a nice apartment of her choice (no restrictions, she pays), has money to meet a friend for dinner or travel (when permitted) etc.

She had research assistant opportunities straight out of college not too long ago. The salaries, while not horrible for a new grad with a bio degree, would have made it tough to pay back close to $700 a month.

Take a free ride and go to an Ivy for grad school.

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My D committed to Fordham yesterday. I cannot speak to your son’s intended major, but it is a strong school and beautiful. You can’t beat the location.

congratulations on all of his acceptances! What an accomplishment!

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I understand it is really hard to pass up an Ivy League acceptance, but I’d think long and hard about the financial ramifications for him and you. It will definitely limit his choices after college in terms of what jobs he can afford to accept, may require him to live at home and could impact how much he can borrow for post-graduate studies if that is an interest. And, if worst comes to worst, will you be able to afford those payments.

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