Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Halving Your College Costs

This is a very hard post for me to write.

Today I got some news that put the nail in the coffin of my oldest son's plans to attend a university in the United States. For those of you who don't know my situation, we immigrated to Canada from the US about six years ago to be near my husband's family and to be able to pursue our dreams of self-employment.

My oldest son chose to apply to US universities because he's interested in Meteorology and we couldn't find any schools offering undergraduate degrees in Meteorology in British Columbia, where we live. He also wanted to return to the US.

I felt that we could pull it off. He had a homeschooling background but was attending his senior year of high school at a public school. I figured he'd interest US universities because of where we live AND the homeschooling background. His grades are terrific, his SAT score was very high. He sent in his applications and we waited for the results.

The results are in.

He got accepted everywhere. He got scholarships everywhere.

But the scholarships aren't enough. Since we no longer live in the US, he counts as an out-of-state student at every college. While his scholarships cover full tuition in almost every case, they only cover IN-STATE tuition. Out-of-state tuition costs more than double in-state. Add in housing and food and plane tickets and it's too much.

So - on to plan B. He can attend the local community college for two years and transfer to either a provincial university or a school in the US, if he saves enough money. Here's the cost difference:

Four years as an out-of-state student at one of the state universities: $26,000 - $29,000 per year. Total: $104,000 to 116,000

Two years at community college: $3500 per year. Two years at regional university: $15,000 per year. Total: $37,000

Two years at community college: $3500 per year Two years at US university: (out-of-state) $27,000. Total $61,000

Interestingly, what's bugging me the most isn't the outcome of my son attending the regional community college/university. It's not "winning" the scholarship "game." It feels like we stole the football at our five yard line, ran it all the back up the field and got within a foot of making the goal and then dropped the ball.

I mean, for heaven's sakes - he got the grades, did the applications, aced the tests, got accepted, got the highest scholarships these schools offered.....and still isn't going. ARGH!

Halving it all isn't always pretty, folks. But at the end of the day, my son will still get a fantastic education at a third of the price in-province and at about half the price even if he attends a US university for his third and fourth year.

I'll choose halving my costs over taking out loans or borrowing against the mortgage any old day.

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