SUNY Buffalo Vs Northeaster Vs RPI for Aerospace /ME

I would pick Northeastern over RPI due to the strength and history of the co-op program.

What are the exact cost differences here? Which, if any, would require loans and how much?

Buffalo is the cheapest. He got into the honor and got some scholarship and it’s in state for us. Northeaster and RPI gave the merit scholarship but we do not qualify for any financial aid, so both school will cost around $50K with room and board after the merit aid. Northeaster is the most expensive but only about $5K more expensive than RPI, so not so much of a difference. Both RPI and Northeaster will require about $20K of loans a year for 3 years as we have 529 to cover the first year.

I’d take advantage of the instate tuition and strength of the Buffalo engineering program. Have many friends that graduated in different engineering disciplines and all have faired well in their professional careers. Recently visited the UB facilities and was thoroughly impressed with the aerospace program for my son (who was accepted with merit but just committed to another school).

@spqr70nj , we are planing to attend and see, but we were so disappointed with the Stony Brook, which is also our SUNY school. We also heard a lot of good things about Stony Brook and Buffalo and I personally know many people who graduated Stony and do great, so i am sure if one wants he can do great anywhere. I also a bit concerned with rankings. For example RPI is ranked #30 in the undergrad engineering and Buffalo is 67 not sure if the ranking is accurate. Where is your sun going?

For engineering, I don’t think it’s worth 60K in loans compared to a no loans option. Engineering ranks are not incredibly important in the end. While RPI and Northeastern will certainly offer advantages, working hard at Buffalo won’t have drastically different outcomes.

PS: It’s Northeastern, not Northeaster :slight_smile:

@PengsPhils , thanks. Yes i saw it after i already posted typing to fast :slight_smile: I do not afraid of loans so much. I went to NYU and had loans myself and paid it with no issue. I am just interested if let’s say the money were not an issue what is the better choice out of these 3?

I think most would argue for Northeastern or RPI (I’d go with Northeastern but take that as a grain of salt coming from a current student, though I did look at both when applying). If you liked the location of Northeastern I don’t think RPI will be a great fit and with costs being close to equal and you loving co-op and all, Northeastern over RPI seems like the right fit call.

That said, you really can’t take money out of context here. If there weren’t loans involved the value question is a bit different, but even with solid majors like engineering why take on the burden of loans when you don’t have to? Rankings in engineering should be a loose guide, not a hard ordering, and 30 vs 67 really isn’t that huge of a difference. If there are sufficient class offerings and you go there and work hard, again outcomes will be similar.

@PengsPhils , Thanks! Also Buffalo and RPI both have an aerospace major and Northeastern do not, should that be a concern? He liked coops idea and definitely wants to do at list one.

I don’t know engineering specialties well enough to advise well enough on that - @eyemgh may be able to help more here I believe.

@Ultramarine777 My son committed to Syracuse last weekend. If it wasn’t for the amazing aid package he would have chosen Buffalo or Rutgers. Their package brought the schools he was seriously considering within the same price range. That said, I tried not to get too fixated on the rankings. As someone posted early, all his schools are ABET accredited so the curriculum will be similar. With the exception of Penn State, I was comfortable that Buffalo, Rutgers, and Syracuse were close in rank for what it’s worth. Both my son and I cared more about the specific learning environments, projects, internships, co-ops, and employer/employment opportunities their graduates were landing. In fact, we met with a few students from each of the schools he was considering to get their take on the school and programs. Found them on LinkedIn and was the best thing I did.

@HPuck35 and @boneh3ad are more authoritative than I. I’d defer to their specific school input if they have any. Being from the west coast, RPI is the only one we know or visited because our son was a Rensselaer Medalist.

As for not having an AE major, that’s not the end of the world. There are lots of roads into the industry, ME probably being the most analogous. Certainly there are engineers of all stripes in aerospace. My son is just finishing his MS in ME, but he interned at an aerospace company and his MS thesis is bleeds over into Aerospace (it’s a mechatronic device that measures pressures in the boundary layer).

I wouldn’t be wildly inclined to take out a bunch of debt if you have a solid, low cost, in state option. Paying more is one thing if you have it to spend and wouldn’t prefer to invest the difference on something else. If you have to borrow it though, it’s a bit of a different story. As @PengsPhils said alluded to, engineering is pretty egalitarian. I think the career earnings potential will be similar with a degree from any of those schools. That’s not to say there aren’t differences between schools, but they are really at the margins. A student from Buffalo that has very good grades, is involved in clubs or research and has internship or coop experience will have better job opportunities than a 2.0 student from MIT or Stanford who didn’t do anything else meaningful.

“I wouldn’t be wildly inclined to take out a bunch of debt if you have a solid, low cost, in state option.” - Ditto.

I’m a big fan of Northeastern (so much so that I accidentally typed it in a Northwestern thread yesterday). Also RPI was pretty cool too when we visited in 2009. DH and I (both Clarkson grads) were impressed. DH had taken some RPI courses around 1980 while in the nearby community college … in those days it was VERY competitive - now it seems more collaborative.

Even though I like the Northeastern and RPI options, it does not seem worth saddling your son with $60K of debt when you have a strong in-state option. Sure…you paid off your own NYU loans. But your son might someday wish he did NOT have nearly $1000/month loan payments. It limits flexibility of choices. At age 18, he might not know what he’s getting into unless you study the numbers together.

For what it’s worth, the University at Buffalo is a good engineering school with a long history of aerospace research (see: CUBRC, though I don’t think there is all that strong of a connection these days).

Thank you everyone. We plan to visit Buffalo this weekend and will make the decision right after. Really hopping to like it. It just we had so much hope for another SUNY that was perfectly located for us and were very disappointed. As to the loans we were also planing to help with it. He will only be taking a Federal student loan, and we have some equity line of credit that we plane to use for the rest if needed, so percentage should be much smaller and it will be easier to repay.

It’s not a matter of “easy to repay” (I can personally attest that $60k is not easy to repay as that was my optometry school debt). It’s what is that money worth if you invest it. The opportunity cost of that money over 40 years is nearly $900k. The investment you make in sending him to a more expensive school will have to earn him that much MORE over his career to break even. That’s highly unlikely. Now if you want to buy him a different experience, that’s a different story. Just know that “better” could have a financial tag that doesn’t pay. All that said, we didn’t send our son to the cheapest school. Good luck!

If he loves SUNY Buffalo, the choice will be easy :wink: If not, then you can sort more through the varying factors. It’s good that you would share any loan burden. Some parent are legally on the hook for the parent loans but still push the burden (on top of Federal student loans) on the new grad.

An update. Thank you very much for your great suggestions. We visited SUNY Buffalo and despite horrible weather, cold, wind and rain we surprisingly loved it. Professors were very enthusiastic, talked about the great opportunities and research that are done now, facilities looked new, with cool engineering labs. Students that we saw seemed to be very happy and loving the school. DS also got into the Honor college where they only accept about 300 kids and there are additional perks that come with being in the Honors. like personal adviser, priority registration for classes ( actuality they are the first to register), additional scholarships… All honor kinds leave together in the dorms that located few minutes from the academic building on the North campus. And we really liked these dorms. They are perfectly designed with lots of common spaces for kids to collaborate, gym, cafeteria and newly renovated laundry room and restrooms. All were very clean and nice.

To be honest we went with the thought that we will not like it and have to see it just to make our self believe that there is no other way but go to NU or RPI and take loans, so UB was total surprise, My son loved it even before us. When we came in the morning there was a marching band planing and he said that this is the first decent band he heard from all other visits, for someone who is currently participates in 4 different bands that was a good start of a day.

Now my only concern is the rating of UB being so low compare to his other choices. I hunestly do not understand why it’s even rated below than Stony which is in my opinion is less attractive. Als DS goes to the specialized public school which is among the national top and in the first 3 of the NY state. Most of his friends go to IVYs or equivalent and if he goes to UB it sort of feels like a step back.

Which rankings? US News? Being ranked 89 (and in the top 40 for public universities) isn’t bad at all.

If it’s US News undergraduate engineering rankings, you should consider that the schools tend to be lump together, with several schools all “tied” at ranking 30, 32, 38, 43, 67, etc. The difference between SUNY Buffalo at 67 and RPI at 30 is only about 6 spots, and not 37. It’s much closer than you may think.
https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/engineering-doctorate

You should also consider the USNWR Engineering methodology. It’s 100% based on institutional reputation according to school deans or their stand-ins. Last year only 50% of schools that grant PhDs replied and even less for schools that don’t, 33%. It is very unscientific and has a strong tendency to self perpetuate.

Engineering is pretty egalitarian. A quick LinkedIn search shows the top 8 spots where Buffalo engineering alumni are linked to be Amazon, Moog, Microsoft, Lockheed, Google, Intel, IBM and Northrup. It’s hard to claim Buffalo would hinder his job search considering Stanford’s top 8 on LinkedIn are Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Cisco, and Amazon. The list is pretty similar with some regional preferences for each differentiating the two.

It’s also hard to overstate how beneficial being debt free is entering the job market. Debt service is a pretty big weight.