Michigan ranked #2 by Money for "best value"


This is great news! I also really like their ranking methodology - it prioritizes a lot of the things that I find important (probably why I also chose UofM in the first place).

This story aligns with my experience too. Surprisingly it was much cheaper for me to attend Michigan as an OOS student (compared to my in-state school U of MD).

@Mich08. Congrats you were able to afford Michigan as an OOS, I presume your EFC was very low and you received need-based aid or you were one of the lucky few to receive a large merit scholarship (usually only offered to Valedictorians or Saluturians from OOS). Otherwise, I don’t see how Michigan can be more affordable to you than your in-state Maryland school. IMO, this Money ranking of “Best Value” is for in-state residents only. The cost to attend Michigan from Out-of-State is approx. $57,000 per year (just tuition/fees and room and board) and a few thousand more for upperclassmen and Ross. This does not include cost of books, travel, miscellany, which puts the cost in the low 60 thousand range. You either have to be rich or poor in order to afford that school. It’s unfortunate that Michigan, my alma mater, is not big on merit aid to make the school affordable for middle class high-achieving students. IMO, being from NY, the value of a SUNY Binghamton, Stony Brook, Geneseo or Buffalo, or OOS school of comparable price to a SUNY (because of large merit aid received) is better value than taking out $100,000 in loans over 4 years to be able to afford to attend Michigan.

Not surprised! That’s awesome. Time Mag also ranked it the #1 public school in the US

From a Yahoo! article on it:

“Coming in a close second in the rankings this year is the University of Michigan, a top-notch public school that’s highly affordable for in-state students. Michiganders with family incomes of about $70,000 or less generally get full-tuition scholarships and often additional grants for living expenses. And within a few years of graduation, alumni report average annual earnings of $59,000—12% higher than graduates of schools with similar student bodies.”

Source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/best-colleges-money-112943492.html

As someone who also got full need-based aid as an OOS kid and only has to pay for my dorm ($0 tuition!), I’m surprised they didn’t mention their awesome OOS financial aid campaign for those making under a certain amount. (I think it was full aid met for families making under $65k?)

@trackmbe3 You are correct about the cost for OOS being prohibitive for the middle class. However, this is not just a UMich issue. Elite schools like BC, NYU, USC and Notre Dame are in the $70k per year range. BC give essentially no merit money! You must be rich or poor to go to BC or take silly loans. The traditional Ivy’s give no merit money. The upper middle class and rich can handle the bills. The lower middle class and poor get FA. The middle class gets the short end of the stick IMO. They can’t really afford to go to Elite School without taking ridiculous loans.


“They [middle class] can’t really afford to go to Elite School without taking ridiculous loans”.

This is probably true for all the schools you mentioned, but let’s not group all elite schools into one category like that. The Ivies, Stanford, MIT, some top LACs, and CalTech amongst others meet full demonstrated need (even though merit scholarships may not be available at some/all of these schools).

“Elite schools like BC, NYU, USC and Notre Dame are in the $70k per year range. BC give essentially no merit money! You must be rich or poor to go to BC or take silly loans.”

I am solidly middle class and my D15 was accepted to BC and ND. Both were very generous with financial aid.

I’m middle class and was given a much better financial aid package at Michigan out of state than the package I got at an Ivy League school

For sure UMich is getting more generous to OOS students these days.

@yikesyikesyikes you make a comment about not grouping all schools together and then make my exact point. “Ivys, Stanford, MIT, LAC, Caltech, meet demonstrated need”. That’s financial aid. If your parents make more than $120k, you probably get nothing… or close to it. FA is a joke if you parents are moderately successful (financially). All Elite schools are the same, I pity the families that make more than $120k and less than $300k.

@suzy100. Yeah, but how much are loans and how much are grants (you don’t have to answer). If you are truely “solidly in the middle class”, you probably did not get a ton of grant money Your out-of-pocket (family contribution plus loans to be paid back) for a Bachelors degree will be extremely high.


Not true - 120k will probably still get you financial aid at Ivies, Stanford, MIT, etc.

My family makes significantly more than that, and had a estimated cost of just over half the price with the Ivys (and my siblings are not even in college yet - when they do enter, the cost will be even lower). All elite schools are not the same. To say so is patently false. Run the NPC calculators and see for yourself. I can almost guarantee you will get a good amount of aid with 120k/year at most of the schools I mentioned, so long as there is not a huge amount of home equity/other assets and things like that.

I ended up going to Michigan, whose financial aid was admittedly not as good as the schools I mentioned.

Also, families that make 120-300k are are upper middle class at worst. In fact, at the higher end of that scale, they would probably be upper class in most states.

@yikesyikesyikes I checked some of the calculators of the schools you mentioned. Booth our points are correct depending on the details. At $120k with low investment assets, students can get decent financial aid. However, if the parents have an investment porfolio above a certain level (it doesn’t have to be huge), the Expected Family Contribution can go way up. In addition, some of the aid comes in loans not grants. Some of the scenaios showed $36-$41k per year EFC plus loans on top of that. I stick with my point that is untenable for people at this income level. I do feel bad for kids that are at the upper end of the middles class. Thier parents really can’t pay these fees in most cases and they will loaded with debt. (OK, I probably overstated top end of the range. Not one feels bad for families making $300k :slight_smile: ).

I wish this list was available before we traveled all over looking at schools.

@MichiganDad22 is exactly right. Responsible middle class families are punished under the FA system, which raises the sticker price to support subsidies. If you have any significant assets - even a mostly paid off house - have been responsible and saved money for your kids education and yourself, and especially if you will have only one in undergrad at a time, you get practically no aid on a middle class income. College funds put aside for other siblings count against you too as do your annual retirement contributions. You don’t get any credit (at most) if you or your spouse is in school, or you have another kid in grad school. For these types of families loans are an anathema. Parents in their 40’s and 50’s do not want to add debt, they want to eliminate their existing debt. The purpose of saving for college is to avoid debt so your kid can have a good start.

$5 or 10K in FA (even in grants) on a $65K/yr CoA at a private is not significant especially when compared to $28K CoA at Michigan. We found that many of the partial merit scholarships were deducted from your EFC. If the CoA was $65K and your had $10K in merit and $10K in grants, your total EFC would still be $55K. These were from several schools in the top 15 whose EFC was all about the same. Why bother awarding both?

Michigan is by far the best value for Michigan residents in just about any discipline, even at in-state sticker price. Thanks for keeping our kids debt free! Go Blue!

Yes, @TooOld4School, “responsible” middle class families end up receiving a lot less financial aid that poorer families or families with fewer assets - because that is the purpose of financial aid.

However, the value of such a system is debatable. What kind of arrangement would you rather have?

@TooOld4School Amen. You are right on.

@yikesyikesyikes For starters, don’t penalize the “responsible middle class”. I am OK with FA aid being based on income. However, why penalize people that have saved or invested responsibly and reward people that spend it all? Crazy. For the sake of full disclosure, I am not in the group I am defending. I just see the “responsible middle class” as the backbone of our country!

Now to comment on the original all post :slight_smile: UMich is one of the greatest schools in America so I am not surprised with MONEY’s rankings. For in-staters, it’s a no-brained (Ivy league education at state school prices) Even for OOS, it’s a great option if you are comparing it to other Elite schools. We are OOS and my D chose UMich over other exceptional schools. She loves the educational evironment, oppotutnies, and quintessential college campas/town. Can’t wait to fly out to the football game against Colorado. Go Blue!

Michdad and TooOld - can’t agree more with some frustration with the aid system. Save and sacrifice, keep low debt, don’t spend wildly and receive no real aid. Take on too big a mortgage, buy the expensive cars and travel the world and get aid — all with the same income.

It’s your country lol.


I understand that you do not want to penalize the middle class - do you have a proposed framework to follow instead. I’m not asking for a comprehensive plan that is pages long, but just a framework that you think would work better than the current structure.

@yikesyikesyikes , what I was referring to is a matter of choices. A family that chooses to live within its means and invest for the future pays more - usually a lot more -than a family that chooses to live close to the edge. The current FA system and easy availability of loans are largely responsible for college cost inflation. We have always had good FA for poor families - that was its original purpose - and I would not change that. Loans and FA for everyone else need to be scaled back to dampen demand, force behavioral changes on less responsible families and enforce market discipline on colleges. As it stands today all taxpayers are subsidizing those loans because of the high default rate and everyone is paying too much in tuition.