As discussed in several prior articles on this website, tuition costs at many colleges and universities are astonishingly high. Indeed, tuition costs have been increasing more than the cost of inflation for decades, and as a result, the tuition and fees for a year of college or graduate school may be more than an individual earns in a year. However, higher tuition costs may be worth it in certain circumstances because schools may use tuition to offer students valuable benefits.
The availability of financial aid may be one situation when higher tuition costs may be worth it. As discussed in prior articles on this website, private colleges generally have higher tuition and fees than state schools. One of the reasons for the higher tuition costs and other expenses is because such schools are more likely to have generous need-based financial aid programs.
Need-based financial aid programs are aimed at leveling the playing field between students who come from families of varying financial needs. Such initiatives provide grants, work-study jobs, and other benefits to needy students so that those students do not need to have as many challenges when attending school. It is difficult to tell if you will be eligible for financial aid when applying to a school and what your financial aid package may be. Nevertheless, higher tuition costs may be worth it if it helps pay for financial aid programs since this may ultimately assist a student in lowering their educational costs.
Another circumstance when higher tuition costs may be worth it is when schools use such fees to fund job search and placement services. Some schools do not invest too much in job placement and career services resources. Indeed, some colleges merely believe that their goal is to provide an education, and they do not invest too many resources in other initiatives that can assist students once they graduate.
However, some schools invest heavily in job placement and career advice services at a university. Indeed, some rankings consider employment statistics when ranking programs, and so colleges have an interest in ensuring that graduates have jobs once they leave a school. Both my college and law school have robust career services programs on campus. These professionals provided valuable advice, helped with job applications, and were a treasured resource while searching for a job. These resources definitely helped me secure internships and my first job after law school, which had a positive impact on my career. As such, I would gladly pay higher tuition costs if it meant that I had the support and resources of career services programs on campus.
Clubs and Activities
A further situation when higher tuition costs may be worth it is if those tuition costs go toward clubs and activities. Some colleges and universities, especially for-profit colleges, may not prioritize clubs and activities. These institutions may see their primary value as being as low-cost as possible to students, and they may not spend too much money on clubs an activities.
However, many colleges and universities devote substantial resources to clubs and activities. For instance, my own alma mater devoted one percent of all tuition costs to a student activity fund that was used for on-campus clubs. Moreover, the school spent substantial sums on college sports and other programs that were not explicitly covered by this student activity fund.
Clubs and activities can definitely help enrich the college experience, and they can also have an impact on your student debt. Indeed, participation in various clubs and activities is considered on graduate school applications and may be considered when these programs make admissions and scholarship determinations. As a result, attending a school that offers more opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities can impact your bottom line when it comes to student loans and educational expenses.
This website has previously discussed how dual-degree programs can help student reduce educational costs, and higher tuition costs may be worth it if it opens the door to such programs. Dual-degree programs allow students to complete two degrees in less time than it would take to complete each degree separately. The programs usually allow students to double count credit they take toward both degrees so that it is easier for the student to earn additional credentials.
While I was in college, I participated in a dual-degree program in which I completed my B.A. and M.A. degrees in four years, even though it would typically take five or even six years to complete these degrees if I earned the degrees separately. This definitely helped me reduce my educational costs since I did not need to pay for extra years of tuition and I could enter the workforce earlier. Dual-degree programs exist for a number of different fields, and if you need to pay higher tuition costs to attend a school with such programs, it may be worth it in the long run to lower your total student debt burden.
All told, higher tuition costs are a problem in the educational arena, but in some instances, higher tuition costs may be worth it. Indeed, higher tuition costs may pay for a variety of opportunities that may not be available at other schools which can directly or indirectly impact the amount of money you need to borrow to earn your degrees.