Hi guys, I’m currently trying to decide between Western and Channel Islands and at this point I just don’t know what to do. A little background-

I’m a California transfer that got into WWU as an Urban Planning major (my #1 path), and CSUCI as an Environmental Resource Management major (can be applied to urban planning as well). I’ve visited both campuses and really liked CI, but absolutely loved Bellingham and the campus.

The only issue here is the tuition and costs. For reference Im from the Bay Area so COL/rent isn’t much of a concern to me (anything anywhere else is reasonable at this point). But for CI it’d only be $7K per year vs $25K per year as an OOS student at WWU. That’s where Im lost at.

I loved Washington and didn’t even mind the cold weather (at least it rains/snows when its cloudy), and could totally see myself pursuing my education there, but CI is more affordable in terms of paying my loans off reasonably.

Any help/opinions?

WWU not a WUE school so you wouldn’t get that discount.
So how would you pay the $25,000?
You can only borrow about ~$6000+ more or less in loans.

It appears to be a public university. This means that it’s funded by Washington taxpayers. As a non-resident of Washington, you’re not eligible for in-state funding.

In California, we have the same guidelines. Thousands of students want to attend the California public schools, but they aren’t able to pay the nonresident fees. Yes it’s expensive.

The first source of college funding is usually your parents.
What have your parents said that they can afford to pay?

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I’m not the person to run through all the financial aid strategies, so I only assume those are close to final numbers. With that said, I can’t see paying that cost differential for WWU. It’s a fine regional university and I know many successful people who’ve been educated there; but $18k / year is not insignificant.

OTOH, I know nothing at all about CSUCI. Are those the only two choices? Is there no other state option in CA for urban planning?

Unfortunately, neither Cal Polys are taking spring transfers this semester, and I would much rather get away from SF and not attend SFSU.

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What’s your plan for graduate school/employment?

(Pun intended).

But seriously—are you planning on pursuing a graduate degree in urban planning?

If so, then I would go to CSUCI. Save some money while getting a solid education.

If not, then I would still consider going to CSUCI, but I would start leaning towards WWU.

Urban Planners typically have a graduate degree, but sometimes, a BS/BA in Urban Planning can work. However, if you choose to go that route (again, pun intended), you’ll probably need to get a Planning degree.

Edit: I’m also agreeing with the posters below. Consider applying to Cal Poly—at least Pomona. Cal Poly offers some of the best planning education in the Western U.S.

Can you take a semester off, work and save some $$, and apply to the Cal Polys (I assume those are your target schools) for Fall semester?

College is an investment. I wouldn’t be in such a hurry as to save a semester’s time and go to the wrong place (“wrong” being because they don’t have your area of study or they’re too expensive).

Also, I just checked the Bureau of Labor Statistics for return on your investment.

Apparently, most entry level jobs for urban planners require a masters degree.
Where are you planning to go on to graduate school with this major? Because that’s a completely different added cost.
I have a friend who is an urban planner, in California, and he loves his job but his wages are not great nor commensurate with his education and experience.

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I do plan on pursuing a masters in UP regardless of either option.

Then save money and just do well as an undergrad.


Whichever state I decide to reside in, I’d simply just get a masters there. I dislike California to a degree, and would rather get out of here as soon as possible personally.

My parents really can’t afford to, and I usually pay for all my own expenses. So all the costs would make their way to me.

As long as you can afford it, then go for it.
California is a huge state.
Since I’ve traveled up and down the state, at least 15+ times, I’m constantly amazed at how diverse it is.
I live in Southern California and I would never want to live in the Bay area because that’s my personal preference. (My daughter lived in San Francisco for four years. I had enough of that.) I have visited the Bay Area as well as the agricultural areas and the Sierras often. It’s just such a hugely, geographically, diverse state. You can see everything in one state, so more power to you if you know where you want to live. Good luck!

This is a no brainer. You are paying, not your folks. And btw you can only borrow $5500 your first year.

Second you are getting a degree that requires more education to be competitive and even then pays not well.

Really your decision is made for you.

Debt is the enemy.

Good luck.

@tsbna44 this student is a transfer, so I’m assuming $6500 to $7K in loans for two years.
Agree that getting the MS for more debt, just to get employed, is not a strong financial ROI.

Ooh my bad. Missed transfer. Still as you note I think federal limits hold.

Truth is that so many kids get fixated on a college or two when In reality there are many that can work well for them.

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I thought WWE is a WUE?

Good catch! I didn’t put the whole name in.
Student still has to pay 150% of the cost of instate.
The only issue is that they are selective and not everyone who applies gets the WUE discount.

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program allows select non-resident students the opportunity to attend a participating university at a reduced rate of tuition.

save the dough and go to CI. Student debt is not your friend.
Its just a couple of years and, you can move to WA after you graduate.

How about being a geography major at a different CSU, like Humboldt? It’s got the cold weather and natural beauty of Western Washington, but the price tag of CSUCI. Geography is a natural stepping stone to a master’s in urban planning (having been a land use planner in a previous life, I can say that most of my colleagues did have master’s degrees, but the fields of study were varied–from the sciences, to policy, to planning, to geography and more).


Good idea. There are plans to make Humboldt into another Cal Poly, so the funding and reputation will increase.

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