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UW-Madison vs. U of I vs. Penn State

illinoismanillinoisman 23 replies17 threads Junior Member
edited March 2012 in University of Wisconsin

I was admitted to UW-Madison as a whole, U of I DGS, and Penn State Smeal College of Business. I am most likely majoring in business (management); however, I am also considering pre-med. My family can afford to pay around $35,000/year out of pocket according to FAFSA. UW-Madison is offering me $5,500/year of loans, U of I is offering $29,000/year in loans, which I most likely won't need, and Penn State has yet to send me a financial awards letter. Is it worth going to UW-Madison or Penn State for OOS tuition (more debt) if I want go to MBA school or medical school? Any input on which school is better is appreciated. Thanks!
edited March 2012
7 replies
Post edited by illinoisman on
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Replies to: UW-Madison vs. U of I vs. Penn State

  • MrpapageorgioMrpapageorgio 105 replies3 threads Junior Member
    The first thing I would say is that what the FASFA says your family can pay is not likely what they can actually pay. So if you haven't done so, speak with your parents about what they can actually afford.

    As far as the schools, they are all good, and it is hard to justify out of state tuition if you are in U of I. HOWEVER, you said you are admitted to DGS, and you are unsure if you want business or premed. You would have to apply later to the business school or LAS if you decide to do premed or business. I'm not sure how hard that is to do, so you may want to look into that. But assuming you get into the individual college at U of I, the business school and premed program is pretty top-notch.

    Ultimately, I would say it should depend in large part on your family's financial situation.
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  • jnm123jnm123 735 replies8 threads Member
    What mrpapa said. Unless you receive a nice merit package from Penn State, UIUC is your most inexpensive choice. UW-Madison will cost every bit of that $35K that the FAFSA says your family can afford (maybe FAFSA should talk to your folks about that! :) )

    I have never visited State College, PA, but campus-wise Madison has it all over Champaign-Urbana. Some people like it, but upon multiple trips down there over the years, I found the UIUC campus to be 'soulless', for lack of a better term. The other Big Ten campuses I've visited--Iowa City, West Lafayette, Bloomington, East Lansing & Ann Arbor--at least had some character. That could be a reason why both my D's were admitted to UIUC but chose to attend elsewhere in the Big Ten.
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  • MrpapageorgioMrpapageorgio 105 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Obviously Madison is a better college town than Urbana. I kind of get what you mean by soulless, but I love the campus. There is a vibe that people are very serious about studying, but U of I has a pretty high graduation rate and freshman retention rate, and most people I have met loved it there. It offers pretty much everything.

    That said, Wisc.-Madison seems to attract more people who think beyond academics...political and such...which I personally love. All things being equal, Wisc Madison to me has a slightly better college life on campus, (and much better off-campus) than U of I, but that says more for how teriffic U of Madison-Wisc is than for how dull U of I is.

    Like Jnm, I don't know too much about Penn State, but I would be shocked and stunned if there is anything going on at Penn State that would make it outshine Madison college-life wise, and the statistics there are no better than Madison or U of I.

    If money is an object, I would go with the in state school.
    If money is kind of an object but not determinative, I would lean in state and judge based on if you think the experience out of state would be worth it.
    Based solely on academics, you can't go wrong. Maybe it is my lack of knowledge about Penn State, but I wonder if its reputation will take a hit due to the football sex scandal.
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  • jnm123jnm123 735 replies8 threads Member
    Many debates on here as to UIUC vs. UW-Madison. Different strokes, but academically both are undoubtedly world-class. Those who graduate are proud to have either name on their resume, and both open doors to graduate school admissions and to the job market as well.
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  • justwaiting1justwaiting1 290 replies9 threads Junior Member
    My son was also acceptted to Penn State (smeal) he was 5 for 5 and penn state was number 5. The top three were UW, University of Miami (fl), and University of Maryland. If he would have been rejected to the first three he would have gone to Uconn. Penn state has a very large campus and it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, better then storrs but still not what my son wanted. When we went on the at Penn State tour it was very rah rah!!! Miami wasn't worth the 50K tuition so it came down to Maryland and UW. After the scandal at Penn state if he were a year younger he wouldn't even apply. Good luck
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  • wis75wis75 14374 replies65 threads Senior Member
    Business and premed intentions are very different. There are likely to be future costs at your own expense for either so I would try to minimize undergrad debt. You state an amount your family can afford that may cover OOs expenses at UW. You need to discuss the true financial picture with your parents- such as how much of a sacrifice is it for them to allow the $35K per year for your college education. I am confused about your finances regarding debt but don't need the details.

    It is not worth going into debt for school with such very equivalent academic choices. You don't know that you will go to medical school (any of the schools work as well for admissions) to get the high income to easily pay off any debts. You may also change your mind about business school. The unfortunate fact is many students end up at their state flagship instead of OOS because of finances- I did (was lucky it was UW). Unless you have very strong feelings about any of the campuses take the least expensive route.
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  • metalmonk28metalmonk28 215 replies11 threads Junior Member
    @justwaiting1 I am currently a senior in high school and Penn State was my 5th admission offer! I am also 5/5 and my top three are Penn State, Purdue, and Ohio State! What a coincidence!
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