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Old 06-30-2011, 10:26 PM   #61
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Perhaps I'm a bit crazy and lack perspective (I am only 25), but from my PoV, if one would attend an in-state public university, the amount of student loans *shouldn't* exceed $40k right now, correct?

There are easy-to-get "fall off a log and hit water" $500-$1000 scholarships students can get for just applying or working with their department administrators and once a student is out of the dorms, all living expenses should be covered by a 15-20 hr/week job. So, if there's 1 year of tuition+dorms, then 3 more years of tuition. For an in-state student, that would currently probably be about $30,000 in loans.

At this point, many grad schools will also offer great TA/RAships and scholarships to those who are admitted, if you look around. I know that I made money off of grad school, and it wasn't because I was exceptional.

Of course, it gets even cheaper if one would follow the community college->public university route.

I guess what needs to happen is some better expectation setting and financial advice from parents, schools, and guidance counselors. My wife and I were fortunate to know what we did when we went to college, and we both know that college is what you make of it. In general, just going to the classes and getting the grades doesn't do much. Taking advantage of student orgs, events, job fairs, and the connections you can make are what help you after college.
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Old 07-01-2011, 07:40 AM   #62
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One other aspect of going to a top school that should not be overlooked is the advantages that an alumni network can provide. There are many leaders out in marketplace that place a high value on taking care of their own. Not that this isn't true for state schools as well, but if you went to a top state school or Ivy league, it may provide you with more offers and higher $ opportunities.
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Old 07-01-2011, 09:46 AM   #63
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A few thoughts. As I recall the research shows that yes people who go to very selective name schools make more money than people who go to the local state university. However, not every student can get into the selective name schools. When you look at students who were accepted to the name school and then went to a non-name school my understanding is that long term earnings are basically the same. It's the student...not the school.

As far as wake up calls for kids. Let's take my son. He is 17 and just finished his first year of community college, starting with no idea what he wanted to major in. He has considered a lot of things -- engineering, psychology, criminal justice, computer science, and to my surprise -- English.

He is actually extremely good at math and science so intellectually could study engineering or a science and end up with one of the higher paying degrees.

But...he is interested in English. He isn't really interested in engineering or science. I've mentioned the likely pay range for English. But, here's the thing. He thinks that ending up earning, say, $50,000 a year sounds fine to him. He isn't very money oriented, but is happiness oriented.

However, he does understand that it would be foolhardy to go into great student loan debt for such a degree so I expect he will be going to a state university after community college.
Not saying your son is one of these.... but I have noticed that kids that are in high school or college do not really understand money as much... IOW, $50,000 and $75,000 might sound the same because it is a lot more than they have ever dealt with.... but a 50% increase in salary is a big deal...


I remember back when I was in my first year of college... and dropped out... I was working in a mail room making $600 a month... it paid for everything that I needed.... I was happy... then I met a girl that had a child and did calculations and determined that I could not support a family... went back to school the next year...
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Old 07-01-2011, 09:50 AM   #64
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I'm not so sure that it really is foolhardy to incur lots of student loan debt. That seems to be the sense of most contributers to this thread, but that doesn't make it true. My loan debt for my undergraduate degree was only a year's salary, when I finally started paying it off after completing grad school. And I would have been happy to pay off a debt that was three or four times as much. Compared to, say, a home mortgage, a student loan seems to me like a really, really good investment.

I guess the issue is the definition of 'lots of student loan debt'....

To me, that means way to much debt for the job that you can get to support the debt... so by my definition, you did not incur lots of debt... nor would you have if it was 3 or 4 times as much...

But someone who has $200K of debt and a job that pays $36K.... has lots of debt...
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Old 07-01-2011, 12:05 PM   #65
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I wish there were some "peer reviewed" studies where the peers did good work. Unfortunately, this is better than average quality, but it's not very good.

This ranks schools, but doesn't adjust for majors. So Harvey Mudd and Caltech provide the best returns, while the School of Visual Arts in NYC and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago provide some of the worst.

I expect if we could go through the list and adjust for majors, we'd find that much of the supposed advantage of one school over another is simply the differing mix of majors. I don't know how this helps me choose a school if I'm going to major in accounting or nursing or architectural preservation etc.

There is no attempt to adjust for quality of students going in. So if I've been accepted by Harvard, should I spend the extra $120k for Harvard instead of U Mass because the average Harvard grad earns $1 million more? Or should I believe the Krueger study that says if I'm sufficiently talented to get accepted to Harvard, I have just as good a chance of a high income if I go to a "lesser" school?

(On the plus side, I think it's good that they adjust for both graduation percents and graduation speed to get more realistic numbers. I'm not sure about adjusting for financial aid.)
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Old 07-01-2011, 03:56 PM   #66
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I wish there were some "peer reviewed" studies where the peers did good work. Unfortunately, this is better than average quality, but it's not very good.

This ranks schools, but doesn't adjust for majors. So Harvey Mudd and Caltech provide the best returns, while the School of Visual Arts in NYC and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago provide some of the worst.

I expect if we could go through the list and adjust for majors, we'd find that much of the supposed advantage of one school over another is simply the differing mix of majors. I don't know how this helps me choose a school if I'm going to major in accounting or nursing or architectural preservation etc.
Yup, I've got a bunch of friends who went to Harvey Mudd and they are all whip smart and make lots of money, but that's because they are engineers and mathematicians. My Oberlin cohorts fare far less well on the chart, but if you want to be a world class performing artist it is one of the best places on the planet to go...

So depending on exactly what sort of ROI you want... I'm happy with my BA (yes A) in Computer Science from Oberlin College. I got to be the person I am in part due to the school I went to, but my major set me up for a relatively well paying career (though my choice to make games as a designer has certainly dramatically lowered what I could have made in pure dollars) that I love (hence my interest in the FI part of FIRE more than the RE).
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