UIUC vs UCI for Computer Science (undergraduate)

Hey guys,

I have been accepted to UIUC and UCI for undergraduate Computer Science major.

I live in California, so UCI costs me about $13,000 per year all inclusive, while UIUC will cost me $28,000 ($40,000 out-of-state tuition + $13,000 room/board - $25,000 scholarship) per year all inclusive.

As you can see, UIUC will cost me close to $15,000 more per year.

I am mainly trying to decide if I should go to UCI so save $15,000/year. I can afford the extra money, the question is if I should.

My main concern is that I don’t to save pennies now and risk losing pounds in the future – that is, I want to go to a college that will help in the long run, even if that means losing/sacrificing a little in the short run.

What do you guys think? Is UIUC worth $15,000 more per year?

Things to consider:

  1. I understand that UIUC is ranked much higher than UCI, but how much more value does UIUC’s ranking add?
  2. Does UCI’s close proximity to Bay Area provide a noticeable advantage over UIUC when it comes to internships/full time jobs?
  3. I don’t know much about the atmosphere, competitiveness, and/or student life at either college. If possible, could you describe what the colleges are like?

Also, through other blog posts, I have learnt much about the weather and the rural vs city life differences between the two colleges. So, please focus your answers on comparing the quality of education, internship opportunities, types of companies that recruit from the college etc.

Thank you

UCI’s tuition costs $15K/year. What about housing and transportation unless you plan on living at home with your family and commuting? Figure on around $30-35K/year for UCI if you plan to live on or near campus.

UCI is no where near the “bay area” which is the San Francisco area. UCI is in Southern California, in between Los Angeles and San Diego. I suggest you get a map. UCI resides in Orange County which does have some tech companies nearby. For Jobs and Internships, look at the UCI Website Career Center.

I cannot give an opinion of UIUC but both schools are great options as long as you do not have to go into debt to attend either one of them.


Thanks for your feedback.

I tried looking into the UCI’s career center webpage but didn’t find much information. It doesn’t list any tech companies that come to UCI and while there is a link to see companies coming to their upcoming Career fair, I can’t view that list since I am not a UCI student.

Do you happen to have a link to the page you referred to?

To answer your questions:
If I go to UCI, I will be living with my family and hence, I don’t have to pay anything for room/board. As a result, I didn’t include those expenses in my question.

Thank you

Just curious if you have other options? Did you apply to other UC or State schools?

I do not have another link for the career center. You could email them and to get a listing of recruiting companies.

Not having to live with your family is a huge PLUS :slight_smile:
It’s college after all!!!

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Regarding the $15k per year difference ($60k total), where would it come from?

If it would come from debt, or make it difficult for your parents to fund their retirement or your younger siblings’ college (if you have any younger siblings), then the extra $15k per year would be a problem. But if it were pocket change to you and your parents, then it matters much less.


That extra $15,000 per year is not a big problem. It’s not exactly pocket change, but my parents can manage to cover that if UIUC is worth it.


If your parents can cover the 15K difference, then yes, UIUC for 15K more than UCI is a super good deal. You should be able to make half of that after sophomore year in a summer internship.
UIUC CS (you were admitted to CS, right?) acceptance rate is well below 10% and their program is known as one of the best in the country.


UIUC does seem to be ‘worth’ the extra cost if it is a campus you would want to live on. It is not worth it if it is a campus you would not want to live on for four years. The costs appear to be identical, only UCI gives you the ‘option’ of living at home. Do you really want to live at home for the next four years or will you spend some of that time paying rent at a place near campus.

First of all, UCI is a very good college for CS. You will have no trouble at all finding internships or jobs. But UIUC is a couple of levels higher than UCI, for CS. Top companies are often willing to pay $5K to $15K premium for a fresh graduate from a top school. So it is possible that your starting salary will be higher with a degree from UIUC.

It is unlikely that computing employers will pay more for school name. Differences in pay levels more likely have to do with the type of job[1] and the region of the employer.

[1]Stronger CS students may get the more technically demanding, desirable, and better paid jobs. To the extent that a given school has more stronger CS students, that may influence the pay level found by that school’s graduates.


If you have multiple job offers, and if you know how to negotiate, then this is when school name becomes relevant. One top company that I know of does pay more for someone from a better school. This is for fresh graduates only. Once you have work experience the school name diminishes in importance.

I’ve been retired for a few years, but the last time I worked at a company that paid more for CS grads from top-name colleges was in the '80s.

Employers looking for CS grads learned that where you went to school didn’t necessarily correlate with your contribution as an employee. Your pay out of college will be based on your job classification/title. If you do really well in your interviews and any tests, you may be able to negotiate a higher salary, but it will be based on your skills, not your school.

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to be fair that’s not entirely true.
When we hire for quant devs we often use school as a filter,
i.e. we’d only look at T1-T1.5 schools,
unless the candidate had worked for T1-T1.5 competitors (or high techs)
which would imply that they passed the whatever filters it took to get that job

There are always exceptions to the rule. I’m not shocked that some Wall Street-type companies still use prestige and ranking when they hire.

WOOO, real?! wow, good to know.

Agree. Certain companies only recruit at certain schools. I’ve also seen start-up companies weed out seasoned applicants based on schools. You’ll have more options.

If you can afford a top school without debt I would go. UIUC fits that description.

I’m curious where else you applied. If you’re accepted to UIUC I would imagine you have other options.

Yes, for real. The typical question from applicants wouldn’t be UCI v. uiuc, it would be UCB v. uiuc, or
MIT full price v. uiuc…which is why we all assume you were admitted to other top universities for CS.
(Do check you’ve been admitted for CS at UIUC, not undeclared/exploratory!)

It sounds like UIUC gave you an in-state tuition waiver scholarship, which puts the cost at roughly the same as UCI minus room and board. So if your parents can cover that portion, the decision really comes down to preference.

When it comes to prestige and rankings, those are really just misconceptions. Employers recruit locally and regionally for entry level jobs, because it’s cost-effective. Entry level salaries are a function of the local market that the job is located in. Employers are not going to pay a higher salary for prestige when they can offer the job to an experienced professional they don’t have to train. Experience is everything in the tech world. After about 3 years experience, employers don’t even ask where you went to school.

So, basically, it doesn’t matter at all which school you choose. Both are great CS programs, and either one will land you a decent job out of college. Do whatever makes you happy :slight_smile: