While the college consultants, research analysts, bloggers, and columnists continue to ask whether college is worth it or not (just search ‘Is College Worth It?‘ to see the explosion of columns with that heading in the past two months), parents and students have the onerous assignment of understanding net costs.
Some of this will be made more transparent — and easier to compare — with the new website from the US Department of Education here. The New York Times wrote about it here. While this is not complete (and reports indicate the data is uneven), the website makes net pricing more readily available and searchable than before.
Reading and comprehending the numbers sometimes tells us what we’d rather not hear: this college is too expensive for you. Or: this college “meets” your financial need by requiring thousands of dollars in student loans each year.
See the Q&A from “Ask Kantro” on the Fastweb site here, to read Mark Kantrowitz’s thoughtful response to a student whose unmet need, or “gap”, is $20,000.
Unless the college significantly improves your financial aid package, you cannot afford to enroll at this college. You should consider switching to a less expensive college, such as an in-state public college or a more generous non-profit college that doesn’t practice gapping.
Getting in isn’t the end goal; add to that: engaging, learning, growing, yes — and achieving the degree without a formidable debt load.