Monday, March 29, 2010
By John Schneider
Sunday’s (March 28) Boston Globe had a sobering story that 13 private colleges in Massachusetts will charge at least $50,000 in tuition, room and board, and fees next year. That’s $200,000 for four years of college and, no matter how you cut it, that’s a lot of money.
No surprise that the story resonates. On Monday, it was still in the top five of Boston.com’s most emailed.
Family Financial Skills
Now I know that most families don’t pay $50,000 and the net price—what you actually pay per year—is often much less than the list price. But as we point out in our recent report Planning for College, students and families are taking on more risk to finance a college education, often by borrowing a lot of money to pay the bill. Add a kid or two or three and we’re talking serious money. No wonder some are asking if college is worth it, or more to the point, is this college worth it?
The complexity of the higher education marketplace has made it difficult to understand the connection between price and value. Few argue that a college education is necessary to succeed in today’s labor market. But how do you know you got a good deal for the money being spent? Absent the apples to apples comparison data needed to make such an assessment – you don’t. In the report, we introduce the “college-bound decision tree,” a unique concept developed by the report’s author Tony Broh. The tree reveals the many complicated decisions facing families choosing a college and figuring out how to pay for it.
We’ll be talking about all this at an event on April 12th. Congressman John Tierney will keynote a discussion about the student financial aid reforms recently signed into law, and an expert panel will breakdown issues affecting higher education price and quality. These topics are increasingly critical as more and more families search for a better deal in the higher ed marketplace.
John Schneider is the Executive Vice President of MassINC