Prviate College Student to Faculty Ratios – How Special Are They?

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When considering a private vs public education, many times student to faculty ratio, and class sizes come in to play. Most private institutions sell themselves on having “low student to faculty ratios” and “small class sizes'” however, most state institutions have identical figures.

When considering a private institution, its important to do your research on the “selling points” of the institution. Many public institutions have comparable, if not identical or even better statistics such as graduation rates, retention rates, out-of-pocket cost and class size ratios.

How Prviate-School Financial Aid Really Works.

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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.

Holy Cross? More like Holy Price Tag! and for what?

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A tour of College of the Holy Cross, located in Worcester MA, this past weekend showed us exactly what a $60,000 per year education will get you!

College of the Holy Cross, better known simply as “Holy Cross” is one of the most reputable and well known religious, private colleges in New England. With an out-of-state student population of over 70%, it is clear that students come from all over the country to attend this pricey, liberal-arts institution.
Holy Cross, which is known for is Hogwarts-style campus, had only one thing going for it, its Hogwarts-style campus. We were taken on a student-lead tour via a student tour-guide from the admissions office. On the tour, all we were shown was the admissions office, the lobby of the library, and a broken-down freshman residence hall. Typically on a college-tour, especially one where you would be paying almost $250,000 to attend, you expect to see at least one dinning hall, a couple of academic buildings, a recreation center (especially since it is a D1 school!) the student center, and nicer than average residence halls.

Holy Cross is a beyond beautiful campus, large historic brick buildings on rolling green hills, covered by trees, however, the outdated and un-fit recreation center, the broken-down freshman halls that resembled prison hallways – that had virtually no common-room and or lounge space,and bedroom doors that looked similar in sturdiness to plywood, and the out-dated and small dinning halls that were hidden from us on tour prove one thing, students chose these high-priced private schools for one reason, the name.

Students are coming to see these private institutions, and are sold on the spot. After the tour, I asked a family that was in the tour-group with us what they thought, and if they had seen any state institutions. There response was alarming – “We had hoped to see more of the campus, but she will have the next 4 years to explore and get acclimated!” When asked again about state institutions, the father responded with “Oh no, it can’t get better than this, did you see that library?!, this is where she wants to be, what more do we need to see?”

Students are falling for the names of these private institutions and their reputations. Of course saying “I’m a student at Holy Cross” has a much nicer ring to it than “I’m a student at Worcester State”. However, had this family gone to see a state school, UMass Amherst, or Worcester State, even a more reputable one, The Ohio State University, they surely would have thought twice about Holy Cross, and realized it may not have offered much, other than a small-private education on a historic campus.

 

What are you really paying for at a private institution?

Ohio State University's Recreation Center

Ohio State University’s Recreation Center

Public higher-education institutions have comparable, if not, higher-quality facilities than private institutions!

When touring a public institution today, you will usually notice a new, or updated library, campus center, recreation center and science center. This is possible for many reasons, one being that they are state-funded institutions, and are able to get loans and bonds of significant amount to fund these projects. Tour a classic private college and this is not always the case. Notably, two private institutions seen, each costing $48,000+ per year, do not even have recreation centers, instead, a gym consisting of a basketball court with an attached fitness room, consisting of a handful of cardio equipment. As well, one had a library that has not been touched since what appears to be the 1970’s and is a one floor building, and one a campus center that should have seen renovations 30 years ago. Both, as well, had decrepit, dungeon like residence halls that if living on campus, you are stuck in until your junior year. These basement like halls run a cost of $14,000 per year, including room and board, where as room and board at local public institutions cost an average of $9,000 per year, and typically have been updated in the last 10 years. BUYER BEWARE.