The Monetary and Academic Value of a Public Education

Crunch the numbers and you will see that a public college, particularly for in-state students, is significantly more affordable than most private colleges and universities. It's important that the value of your education goes far beyond the amount of money you spend on it.

Assistant Editor, Wintergreen Orchard House

Originally Posted: Feb 21, 2012
Last Updated: Feb 22, 2012

Crunch the numbers and you will see that a public college, particularly for in-state students, is significantly more affordable than most private colleges and universities. The reason being is that public colleges are supported by state and local governments, and costs are able to stay low due to tax dollars provided by the state. A college education is not just about the cost, though. It’s important that the value of your education goes far beyond the amount of money you spend on it. Many public universities have exceptional academic reputations and can help you stay within a budget. Here are some things to consider so you can find a college that fits your academic goals but also won’t have you paying off loans for the next 25 years.

More than money

I’m not suggesting you go to the school that is the lowest cost to you no matter what. There are many other factors to consider when choosing a college or university to attend. For instance, does a school have the major you want to study? How does their program compare to other schools? An advantage to large public universities is that there are often a wide variety of programs offered. This can be particularly helpful to students who enroll as undeclared and want to wait until they take a few classes to decide what suits and interests them best. Having more options allows you to major in something that interests you, while giving you the flexibility to change your mind if, down the road, you decide to switch majors. Is being in an honors college an important factor to you when deciding where to go to school? Many public colleges and universities have highly regarded honors programs that could rival those of private colleges and look impressive on a resume.

Do the research

Not all public colleges and universities are the same, just like not all private colleges and universities are the same. Some have better academic reputations than others, some are research institutions that have contributed discoveries to the fields of science and technology, and some have renowned business schools. It’s important to know where your school stands among others. Do some research to find out the student-faculty ratio, the rankings of reputable publication, and alumni accomplishments since graduating. Being well-informed of all aspects of the school you choose will help you get more out of your degree.

What’s the right answer?

A solid academic education plus an affordable education equals one happy student. Graduating with little or no loans is an incredible advantage when trying to start a career or move out on your own. A public education can help you achieve that goal if you finance your education correctly and take advantage of financial aid as necessary. Bottom line, you should not base your college decision on money alone because you’ll never be happy with your choice if you choose a cheaper school in which you have no interest. If, after thorough research, you decide that a public college or university is right for you because it has a program you’re interested in, tuition you can afford, and is in a location where you want to be, then you can rest assured that you’ve made a good decision. 

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business schools financial aid honors programs in-state students public college business schools public colleges

About Kristen Healy

Kristen Healy

Kristen is an Assistant Editor at Wintergreen Orchard House, a sub-division of Carnegie Communications, where she manages data for Midwestern colleges and universities. She graduated in 2010 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a double major in Journalism and Communication and a minor in Political Science. She is psyched about blogging about Public Colleges and Universities seeing as she is a proud product of one. She hopes that her four years at the Massachusetts state flagship campus will help her to bring new light to a broad range of topics that can relate to attending a public college or university. Her college career was spent writing for the news section of UMass’s Daily Collegian, volunteering at the university television studio, and enjoying the sites and activities of downtown Amherst. Kristen loves to travel and spent part of her junior year studying abroad in Galway, Ireland, where she gained perspective of what it is like to attend a large university in another country. She hopes her experiences in public higher education will help guide readers through their own college journeys!

You can circle Kristen on Google+, follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to her CollegeXpress blog.


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