If you have ever toured a private institution, or spoken with an admissions/financial aid counselor from one, you are constantly reassured several things “you can afford this” “if you want to be here, we will make it happen” “you’ll end up paying out of pocket the same as if you went to a state institution” “everyone gets a minimum scholarship of $20,000” etc etc.
The average financial aid package at a private institution is $28,000-$35,000 for a school that cost $45,000+ per year. For a high-school student who doesn’t know much about how financial aid works, this seems amazing, like a gift from god, especially compared to your $10,000 financial aid package from the state school you applied too.
However, what students aren’t realizing is that, yes, you may pay out of pocket/up front the same at each institution – $10,000 or so (if you’re lucky) however, in that private financial aid package, along side an impressive scholarship, and possible grant, is a $20,000 loan, a loan that was not part of your state school financial aid package.
Private schools are sticking to their words “if you want to be here we will make it happen” and prospective students are clinging to every word of it. When a school cost $45,000-$60,000 per year, and they are handing you a slip of paper that says “if you sign here, you agree to pay $10,000 for the 2014-2015 academic year” how could you blame anyone for agreeing to that? Especially at reputable institutions like Holy Cross, Boston University, Northeastern and Boston College.
What students are missing, is that four-six years of that same financial aid package will end up costing them $80,000 – $120,000 after they graduate, before interest which will quickly double those figures.