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University Living Costs - is it worth it?
Old 04-20-2016, 10:43 AM   #1
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University Living Costs - is it worth it?

I started a thread asking how to lock-in the current value of the CAD vs USD, since DS is/was seriously considering a Canadian University. In going this process with him, he had a lightbulb moment. He realized he could save a lot of money (for all of us) by going to the in-state university and living at home.

We've committed to giving him a full ride at an in-state university. This includes tuitions, lodging and meals. The Canadian University he's looking at is going to be about 10k/year more, based on the current exchange rate. We figure that if he leaves with 40-50k worth of college debt, that's not too bad, especially if he gets a degree in compsci. He's been thinking about this and he realized that he has a great deal living with us. He gets a lot of freedom, he doesn't want to live in a dorm, and if he can get a compsci degree in-state he saves himself a lot of money with better employment prospects.

The biggest risk is that he doesn't get into compsci. I told him to look at other majors to see if there are good alternatives. This is one of the reasons he was looking at Canada. The Canadian University he's looking at is academically about the same as the in-state university. For the field of study he wants (compsci), the in-state university is much more competitive. For Canada, once you are accepted as a freshman, you're in your program of study, which is a big advantage. He's going to try for direct admission into him major for in-state, but it's unlikely he'll be immediately accepted.

I'm wondering what others think about going to university and living at home?

I've had the opinion that moving out for university is a great way for kids to learn how to be on their own, yet still be in a relatively safe environment. But presented with this option, I'm not sure it's worth 13k/year. DS is already independent. We've raised them that way and it's paying off for us. So I'm not sure how much benefit he'd have by living on his own. We've already told him that if he stays, he'll still have to live by our rules (our house, our rules), but that's really not a big deal for either of us. I'm curious to know what others think, especially those that had the experience of going off to college.
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:59 AM   #2
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The biggest risk is that he doesn't get into compsci. I told him to look at other majors to see if there are good alternatives. This is one of the reasons he was looking at Canada. The Canadian University he's looking at is academically about the same as the in-state university. For the field of study he wants (compsci), the in-state university is much more competitive. For Canada, once you are accepted as a freshman, you're in your program of study, which is a big advantage. He's going to try for direct admission into him major for in-state, but it's unlikely he'll be immediately accepted.

I'm wondering what others think about going to university and living at home?

I've had the opinion that moving out for university is a great way for kids to learn how to be on their own, yet still be in a relatively safe environment. But presented with this option, I'm not sure it's worth 13k/year. DS is already independent. We've raised them that way and it's paying off for us. So I'm not sure how much benefit he'd have by living on his own. We've already told him that if he stays, he'll still have to live by our rules (our house, our rules), but that's really not a big deal for either of us. I'm curious to know what others think, especially those that had the experience of going off to college.

My son went for his dream school, one of the UC schools (there are 9 of them in California). He got in Math department first then spent the first year taking all CS required courses. There is a risk because CS is an impacted major in his school. They do not take everyone who wants to transfer, but he was about to transfer. He is now a sophomore in CS. So, your son can check to see if this path is possible for your in-state school.

My son's school is 3 hours away from home, so my son has to stay in dorms and later off campus. I think he prefers that because there are a lot of student activities, and all-night computer lab work for CS students that would not be convenient if he lives at home.
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:09 AM   #3
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I'm wondering what others think about going to university and living at home?
I lived at home for the first two years way back in the olden ages when I went to college. I then moved into a shared house with other students for the last two years.

I would summarize my experience as somewhat lonely since my friends from high school went their separate ways and college friends were yet to be. Academically it was great as I had lots of time to study and I made that my priority.

In hindsight, I would have liked to experience the dorm thing even if it was just for a year or two. I didn't have the money then so it wasn't a choice.

Also in hindsight, my college years were the best years of my life. I have a lot more money now, but I had a lot more fun then. I have fun now but the college years were the best.
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:14 AM   #4
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I'm wondering what others think about going to university and living at home? I've had the opinion that moving out for university is a great way for kids to learn how to be on their own, yet still be in a relatively safe environment. But presented with this option, I'm not sure it's worth 13k/year. DS is already independent....
We insisted our kids lived away from home for at least the first year. We were open to discussion after that. Before college, each had already had jobs and were pretty independent for their age but clearly not mature adults. Living away from us, they learned a lot about getting along with others, managing situations themselves, and managing finances. Each matured a lot and none actually wanted to come home after that first year. We felt it was worth it for our kids and they tell us the same thing. YMMV
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:21 AM   #5
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One of the great things about going away to college is it gives you a break between high school and life. You make new friends in a new place where your old support group no longer exists. That gives you some needed social and coping skills that you don't get living at home.
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:36 AM   #6
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I went from a small town high school to the University of Toronto. It was culture shock but the experience was priceless. I actually enjoyed the dorms.
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:51 AM   #7
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I think living away at college is a good thing if you can afford it. It makes it easier to be involved on campus-- clubs and study groups meet at times that may be annoying if he had to commute back and forth to campus. While it's not critical, there is something good about learning to live with a roommate, setting your own schedule, having to do your laundry, grabbing pizza with friends at 3 a.m., and other shenanigans.

I did some stupid things in college, that I couldn't have done if I was living at home. But I survived and learned from those experiences. I'm sure my DD's would say the same. In fact, I have a theory that teens/young adults almost all have to go through a "crazy" phase with partying, etc. Most of my cohort did that while in college, so we were ready to settle down and be responsible once we graduated. Maybe someone who doesn't have that chance because s/he lives at home during college ends up going through that phase when they are in their mid/late 20's?
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:56 AM   #8
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I think living away at college is a good thing if you can afford it. It makes it easier to be involved on campus-- clubs and study groups meet at times that may be annoying if he had to commute back and forth to campus. While it's not critical, there is something good about learning to live with a roommate, setting your own schedule, having to do your laundry, grabbing pizza with friends at 3 a.m., and other shenanigans.

I did some stupid things in college, that I couldn't have done if I was living at home. But I survived and learned from those experiences. I'm sure my DD's would say the same. In fact, I have a theory that teens/young adults almost all have to go through a "crazy" phase with partying, etc. Most of my cohort did that while in college, so we were ready to settle down and be responsible once we graduated. Maybe someone who doesn't have that chance because s/he lives at home during college ends up going through that phase when they are in their mid/late 20's?
+1
Best thing I did way back then was to get away from home and the "our house/our rules" environment.
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Old 04-20-2016, 12:35 PM   #9
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I went to the University of Toronto and lived at home. Couldn't have afforded otherwise. Always regretted missing the full university experience. No new friends, etc.
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Old 04-20-2016, 12:53 PM   #10
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My kids are pretty independent and they live in dorms and off campus housing. There is no way they would live at home. But there is a risk to transfer to CS at one of my kid's UC school, you need almost 4.0 for the prerequisite courses. I've read online students who got 3.96/3.97 got rejected for transfer into the CS major.
My kid originally wanted to go to Canada for college, she likes snow and ski. But she got Regents scholarship so it's much cheaper for her in USA and priority enrollment is a very nice bonus. She got into some classes that her CS buddies didn't get into.


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Old 04-20-2016, 01:12 PM   #11
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I'd do whatever would ensure me getting into the comp sci program - when I was hiring comp sci New grads - I didn't care all that much about the school - I was more interested in what class projects they did or if they did internships or if they did some contributions on an open source project or research project - if the school has a good intern program to me that's a big plus


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Old 04-20-2016, 01:19 PM   #12
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Which universities is he looking at in Canada and US? If he's considering Waterloo, keep in mind that it is one of the best undergrad institutions in CS in North America. When I went there in the early 90s all of the top US tech companies were recruiting from the school and were actively involved in the coop program there.

Note: I did engineering not CS at UW. But I have to admit that the CS reputation is better.

Edit: If he hasn't already done so, he should visit the schools and talk to the faculty and students.
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:26 PM   #13
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How funny to read this post today as I just picked up my DS from his college today and on the ride home had a discussion about this very topic. I wanted my DS to go off to college for a lot of reasons, some related to him specifically (he is an introvert and I hoped living on his own would benefit him), but also because of my own college experience living away from home. Personally, I think living away from home was when I started to grow up and become independent. I never actually moved back home once I went away, except for summer months while off from school.

Our compromise was that my DS lived on campus at a local school for two years. This is his fourth year and he has commuted now for three semesters. He told me today he thought it was worth living on campus his first year, but not worth the extra money the second year. I will say that even though he lived on campus 2 years, he didn't really involve himself in many activities while he lived there like he could have. I think it is just not in his nature. Maybe I should not have forced it and saved that money...

I really think the answer may be in what kind of kid you have. My hope was that my DS would come out of his shell a bit more living away from home, but that didn't happen. He does say that he had more opportunity to use some of the facilities at school when he lived there (library, gym). But he is happier commuting and I guess I'm happier saving the money. I just had so much fun living at college it is hard to understand why he didn't absolutely love it.

My younger DS will be going off to school next year and really wants to go to a state school far away from home. Different kid.

So I say -- let your kid decide if money isn't a factor in the decision.
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:51 PM   #14
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Here's some off the wall thinking about college costs as they exist today.

Fortunately my own costs were paid by scholarships, and DW 's dad was able to pay her way. Now, looking back, my own total four year costs were approximately $5400. CPI inflation would make that about $15,000 today... some sixty years later.

So today, that same school has an annual cost of $65,000, or a total of $260,000 for four years. Using the same CPI inflation rate of nearly 300%... would bring the total to $780,000 over the same total time frame.

No... this doesn't relate to the OP... but a perspective that looks at the value of money over time.

Another somewhat off topic website that looks at colleges from the student's view... covering the intrinsic as well as the monetary value of higher education. Somewhat different than the U,S. News, Forbes, Newsweek or Princeton websites.

https://colleges.niche.com/rankings/

Best of luck in whatever the decision. These are trying times for decisions on the next step in education.
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:57 PM   #15
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He's looking at UBC and UW. He wants to stay relatively close to home and he likes the West Coast. That limits his options. He's not interested in Oregon and CA is outrageously expensive.

He's really against living in a dorm, especially the shared space. He likes his comfort/privacy. Single dorm rooms are available and they don't cost much more, so that might be an option. Personally, I think he should get over it, but they have their own opinions at this age.

I never had the living on campus experience, and it's something I wish I had, but I think living on campus would be great, for many of the reasons mentioned here.

I'm warming up to the idea to having him to live on campus the first year. We live close to the UW, so even if he wanted to come home on the weekends, etc, it wouldn't be a big deal. Of course if he goes to UBC, then he'll have to live on campus.

We've unofficially visited both campuses, the UW many times since it's close by.

We'll do the official tours either this spring or next fall, but his choice is only between these two schools (which fit his personality) and an easier school for a backup (probably Western).

Also, the co-op program at UBC sounds like a great program. I like the idea of UBC so he gets a little bit of non-US exposure and if he'd get international co-op employment, all the better.
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:58 PM   #16
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Now, looking back, my own total four year costs were approximately $5400. CPI inflation would make that about $15,000 today... some sixty years later
Using the CPI calculator $5400 in 1956 would be worth $47276.

Still a bargain compared to todays college costs but much greater than the posted $15k
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Old 04-20-2016, 02:05 PM   #17
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Using the CPI calculator $5400 in 1956 would be worth $47276.

Still a bargain compared to todays college costs but much greater than the posted $15k
Ooops...

Right... and that would make and equivalent 60 year value of $2,340,000....

My major was Psychology, not Mathematics...
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Old 04-20-2016, 02:16 PM   #18
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How easy is it to transfer to Math/CS at UW. At my kid's school, that major is also very popular and is now capped.


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Old 04-20-2016, 02:26 PM   #19
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So today, that same school has an annual cost of $65,000, or a total of $260,000 for four years. Using the same CPI inflation rate of nearly 300%... would bring the total to $780,000 over the same total time frame.

260k is nutty.

We're estimating about 25k/year, 100k for four years. That seems reasonable. If DS lives at home, then it drops to around 53k for four years.

We enjoy visiting Vancouver and last year we stopped by UBC to take a look. When we got home, I realized it's not outrageously more than the UW.

When I looked at this last weekend, at current rates we'd pay 145k for four years, 45k more than the UW. If it hits parity, which is probably the worst case, then it'd be 187k.

That's a lot more money, hence my thinking of locking in CAD at today's rates.
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Old 04-20-2016, 02:38 PM   #20
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How easy is it to transfer to Math/CS at UW. At my kid's school, that major is also very popular and is now capped.

CS at the UW is a competitive major. There are two ways in, direct admission from high school or apply after you've done your prerequisites.

Direct admission may have been a possibility if DS did as well in his freshman year as he's doing now. But even then, very difficult. I think they take about 30/40 students a year and expect them to have a strong math/science background. DS does really well with sciences, but he won't have calculus in HS so that option is most likely out.

After that, they look at the grades in your prerequisite classes at the UW. The average is around a 3.8 and they accept about 30% of applicants.

On the plus side, they're trying to expand their facilities so they can accept more undergrads and if everything goes according to schedule, this could be about the time my son would trying applying for CS.

I'll also add that CS students at the UW are ridiculously spoiled by the local tech companies. We did a tour with a few seniors last year and each had a job offer with major tech companies after graduation. Tech companies heavily recruit on campus. They're a constant presence giving away free food, etc, while trying to recruit for internships and jobs after graduation. It's a great place to be if you're a smart and motivated CS student.
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