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Pittsburgh as good as the Ivies?

Emi2008Emi2008 Registered User Posts: 250 Junior Member
edited April 2008 in University of Pittsburgh
I've got a situation here... I've been admitted into Pitt and Columbia U. I was admitted into Pitt's Honors program with free tuition. I got into Columbia's Scholars program, but my financial aid hasn't come in yet. Columbia has always been my top choice (Pitt is a close #2 and I'm perfectly fine with going there if I need to), however I don't believe they will give me an adequate amount of money to go there because of my family's income.

So even if Columbia cut their tuition price in half (not saying they will, just making a scenario), should I still choose free UPitt over Columbia? I want to get into bioengineering (and plan on going to graduate school). What advantages does Pitt have over Columbia- or any Ivy for that matter?

If anyone has advice (I know that most of you are probably bias towards Pitt, but I'd like your opinions anyway) I'd love to hear them!
Post edited by Emi2008 on
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Replies to: Pittsburgh as good as the Ivies?

  • LurkNessMonsterLurkNessMonster Registered User Posts: 2,015 Senior Member
    I think you should wait and see what your financial aid will be at Columbia. Have you visited both schools? Both are urban campuses, of course. If Columbia works out to be about half tuition, could your family afford that? My daughter is at Pitt with free tuition, and she loves the school. Pitt is excellent for all things medical. (You would have to check out bioengineering specifically. I don't know anything about that.) But I can also see the appeal of Columbia.

    Taking merit aid over a full-price school is a topic much debated over on the Parents forum. It's a complicated issue, and the short answer is that it depends on the individual student and his or her family. Lots of kids do great at the honors colleges at state u's. They appreciate graduating debt free and going on to grad school without a worry. Here's one thread that discusses it:

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/370369-honors-college-vs-top-rated-schools.html?highlight=honors
  • americanbeauty23americanbeauty23 Registered User Posts: 171 Junior Member
    Both my parents were dirt poor when they applied to college. They took out loans, got grants, scholarships, aid and went to top schools like Georgetown.

    My advice?

    If Columbia is your dream, don't let money stand in your way. You can always pay things off as you go. Have you considered student loans? Getting a job to save up?

    Both are great schools, but the chance to go to Columbia is amazing. You obviously worked hard and are very intelligent. You deserve to go to a school that makes you happiest.
  • Emi2008Emi2008 Registered User Posts: 250 Junior Member
    Thanks for the Lurkness, I'm going to read that thread. I have visited both schools (I love urban schools) and each one is fine, but I LOVE New York City (my family is from NY so I've grown up loving it). My mother says that the family is already in some debt, so we can't even afford half price! She says that Columbia has to either match or come close to what Pitt is giving... which is a stretch. The whole debt thing is important though- to go to grad. school without debt looming over my head would be nice.

    I see what you're saying americanbeauty, but what I'm worried about is if I do take out loans, get a job, etc. I'll just put more stress on myself, you know? I dont want to go to college, but have to work all the time in order to pay off loans and stuff and then worry about them after I graduate. I do get jobs during the summer, but of course I don't make that much money. I want to go to Columbia, but I want to enjoy my time there, not worry about money issues, you know what I mean?

    I guess what I'm most worried about if going to Pitt and then regret my decision. I don't want to have that "oh crap, why didn't I go!" moment.

    But thanks for your comments, it has helped me think...
  • ChrysChrys Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    I know what you mean. I'm kinda facing the same thing. I'm thinking that it would be better to go to a decent but affordable school for undergrad where you wouldn't have to worry so much about money, and then maybe look again at your dream school for grad. My parents feel pretty strongly about not having debt, and I'm starting to agree that it would really be nice not to have to worry about that during or after college.
  • EMM1EMM1 Registered User Posts: 2,583 Senior Member
    "If Columbia is your dream, don't let money stand in your way. You can always pay things off as you go. Have you considered student loans? Getting a job to save up?"

    Spoken like a person who has never had to deal with the reality of large debts or college financing. Sticker price at Columbia is about $200,000. The idea of borrowing even half that much to go to college is insane.
  • americanbeauty23americanbeauty23 Registered User Posts: 171 Junior Member
    You don't have to start paying it off until well after you graduate, and you can start paying it off a little at a time.

    I know what you mean, though. You don't want to have to worry. But...if it were me, I'd go to Columbia if I could possibly do it. I understand that everyone's financial situation is very different (I will have to work through college and pay it off), and I don't know what you're going through personally. It sounds to me like you're smart and you'll be happy and successful at either school. They're both winners.

    I plan on doing film for instance, which is an expensive career. But it's what I want, it won't always be easy, I will be poor a lot of the time working my way up, but it's my dream so in the end it is worth it.

    I wish you the best! I'm sure it'll work out for you, you're into two great schools!
  • EMM1EMM1 Registered User Posts: 2,583 Senior Member
    "A little at a time?" For my $100,000, try $800 per month on a $40K salary.
  • lkf725lkf725 Registered User Posts: 4,781 Senior Member
    I don't know about Columbia, but I agree with Lurkness that Pitt is great for any medically-related majors. I also agree that $100K undergrad debt is going to be overwhelming. If you don't get full funding for grad school, you may not be able to borrow enough to go.

    Why don't you check out the schools' web sites to see what's going on in their bioengineering departments and maybe that will help you to decide.
  • moonman157moonman157 Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    My neighbor graduated from Columbia undergrad and Princeton grad, and she's in her midforties and just finished paying off her student loans late last year. Columbia is a fantastic school, but it's not worth miles of debt. I think Pitt will get you where you want to go.
  • LurkNessMonsterLurkNessMonster Registered User Posts: 2,015 Senior Member
    Emi2008, I was just wondering, did you get your FA package from Columbia yet? Have you decided one way or the other?
  • Emi2008Emi2008 Registered User Posts: 250 Junior Member
    Yeah, it came a few days ago. They gave me squat! Zip, zero, nada.

    So I am now officially a Pitt Panther! *rowr*
  • LurkNessMonsterLurkNessMonster Registered User Posts: 2,015 Senior Member
    Welcome to Pitt! My daughter has a couple of close friends who are engineering students. Please PM me if you have any questions!
  • lkf725lkf725 Registered User Posts: 4,781 Senior Member
    Emi2008, I think you will be very happy with Pitt's engineering! My junior son had originally wanted to go to CMU, but we couldn't afford it. He ended up loving Pitt and did extremely well there. The profs are mostly nice, many kids do research and most either do co-ops or get summer internships (they have a semi-annual job and internship fair). And of course you know that they just got a $41M donation, so I expect lots of upgrades to the programs.

    And, last but not least, Oakland (and Pittsburgh in general) is a really nice city for students. :) Good luck!
  • iloveagoodbrewiloveagoodbrew Registered User Posts: 1,681 Junior Member
    I'm engr @ Pitt. Its nice. Ask if you have anything specific you want to know. I'd come here if I had to make the choice in your place.
  • billy14billy14 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    My son was accepted into engineering at Pitt (but not honors) and is probably going to attend. If you are not in honors, would you have a very different academic experience? He was told he could take honors courses with approval of his advisor-but what about non-honors classes? Is there a big difference between honors and non honors students?
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