How to look at the cost of college… in Virginia and 49 other states.

While many high school seniors (and their parents) are now in the wait-and-see period of college applications, juniors and sophomores (and their parents) are somewhere in the extended continuum of figuring out which colleges to put on their long lists. Given the ever-increasing amount of funds required for college, many families put the Cost of Attendance high on their list of criteria.

This recent article in our local paper covered some important points to consider: That college may not be out of your range after all. Written by Jonathan West, director of the College Funding Group, LLC out of Richmond, VA, the article presents Mr. West’s data from running Net Price Calculators for public and private colleges in Virginia. He emphasizes the need to determine a college’s real (or net) price and offers these important points:

  1. “Ignore the sticker prices. Twenty-one out of 25 schools offered some discount.”
  2. “Private colleges are not as expensive as you might think.” Net prices brought the public-private cost difference down to $2500.
  3. “Merit aid is available for families with higher incomes, too.”
  4. “Your teen does not need to be at the head of her class to get merit aid.”

Here’s the net-net:

What are the most expensive and least expensive colleges in Virginia? The answers are Washington and Lee and Washington and Lee.

The print version of the article included Mr. West’s data, including assumptions used in the calculators. Since the online version doesn’t, here’s a link to his website, which provides it in pdf form. Here’s a screenshot of the figures:

Via Click to enlarge.

Have you run any Net Price Cacluators? If the cost of college is high on the list of college criteria, we need to do our homework to make sure we’re considering the college net cost instead of the sticker price.

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Filed under Paying for College

5 responses to “How to look at the cost of college… in Virginia and 49 other states.

  1. Nothing strikes greater fear in my heart these days than I may not be able to help my children afford college.

    • Teach them well at home and they won’t need to go to college. My college experience was a complete waste of money. I wish I hadn’t gone.

      • Thanks for your comment, James. Re choosing to go go college: to each his or her own. Most students in the US will need some post-secondary training or education for productive careers. It doesn’t have to be college, but college should be considered, depending upon their goals. If college is the choice, whether it’s worth it or not depends upon many factors, including what the student does with it.

    • Terry, you are not alone in that at all. I think the best anecdote for that fear is clear information on what it may cost. I’d recommend running a couple of Net Price Calculators now, perhaps one each for a public and a private Virginia college. Use your current tax information to get an idea of what college would cost if your oldest child was starting this year. Then both you — and your child — are in a better position when she starts considering which colleges she’s interested in.

  2. Pingback: The Sophomore Search for College [or... hiding from the emails] | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

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