Monday, December 12, 2005

I see a pattern

Yesterday, the Sunday Boston Globe magazine ran an article titled “Is UMass pricing out kids like Joe Drury” about how the escalating price tag of a year at Massachusetts’ flagship university is increasingly beyond the means of low-income families. But I found this list of the most and least expensive public universities to be most interesting (costs are tuition and fees only; room and board are separate). Color coding has been added as an extra hint.

Most Expensive
1. Penn State, University Park: $11,508
2. Rutgers, New Brunswick, New Jersey: $11,051
3. University of Vermont, Burlington: $10,748
4. University of New Hampshire, Durham: $9,778
5. University of Massachusetts, Amherst: $9,278

Least Expensive
1. University of Florida, Gainesville: $3,180
2. Florida State University, Tallahassee: $3,208
3. University of Wyoming, Laramie: $3,426
4. University of Alaska, Anchorage: $3,497
5. University of Nevada, Las Vegas: $3,532

Discuss.

Extra – Will Franklin was kind enough to find a post I requested about the relation between tax rates and state economies: “states that lacked an income tax saw stronger economic growth, stronger personal income growth, stronger population growth, and stronger job growth, than states with the highest income tax rates. States without income taxes also, shockingly enough (not!), had less budget problems than the states with the highest income taxes.”

31 comments:

Ryne said...

Not only are Red State universities quite affordable, but I'm willing to bet that the class size and quality of the faculty practically doubles the value for your dollar.

As a graduate of a Red State school, I can tell you that's exactly why many of my classmates wound up migrating in from the coasts.

All of this applies to everywhere except for Laramie, though. You'd have to pay me $3,426 a semester to spend my winters there. (Just kidding. Kinda. My dad's a UW alum.)

S.Tufts said...

According to U.S. News & World Report's annual listing, only the University of Florida (50th) ranks alongside Penn State or Rutgers as a middle-of-the-pack college.

Florida State University sits below all the "Most Expensive" ones, even a few notches below U. of Mass.

The other three "cheap" schools fall under the "you get what you pay for" category. The Universities of Wyoming and Alaska are third-tier, and Nevada is fourth-tier.

Davod said...

It is a pity none are in the DC area.

Eric said...

The issue is whether it's the mission of a public university to be top-tier (and expensive) or provide a reasonable education for all. I just find it interesting that the compassionate "blue" states have decided essentially shut out poorer students at their flagship universities.

Bitter said...

When I lived in that area, I always had to roll my eyes at the UM-Ass students bitching about their tuition. As a student at one of the 4 private colleges surrounding UM-Ass, I was shelling out between $35K and $40K a year. The fact that they had free use of all the classes and resources of those campuses, all of which are among the most highly ranked liberal arts colleges in the nation, seemed to escape their little minds as a perk. Most state schools don't offer that kind of benefit.

But seriously, what set me off the most was the incredible waste of resources. In one communications class I took at UM-Ass, we were handed a pencil, 2 sheets of paper and 2 envelopes as we walked in the door. We were instructed to write a letter to Swift telling her how awful she was for not giving the public university system more money. The other sheet was to be used to write a letter to our parents telling them to get on board and write letters and make phone calls on the matter. I raised my hand and asked where the pencils, paper and envelopes came from. Prof: "The communications department." Okay. I refused to participate and even offered to donate the materials back, but she told me I had to do as a class assignment. (Mine really bitched Swift out for not doing enough as a Republican to cut government programs and spending, including funding to universities with faculty who waste resources on political advocacy not related to the subject while screaming that they don't have enough money.)

The following week we were told that we could have an excused absence from class and get extra credit if we skipped and got on the chartered buses the university paid for to ride to Boston and protest education funding at the State House. We were informed that coffee and donuts, paid for by the university, would be provided and that each student would be given a plant supplied by the university to take to their elected officials while they lobby. I was the only person to show up in the classroom that day.

Ryne said...

Oh, sure. There's a certain amount of "you get what you pay for" in education, but for your typical student, what's the big deal? Know where I heard that? From an administrator at a private university in St. Louis.

A fellow I went to high school with attended the University of Notre Dame. He is now an english teacher. Other friends went to state-run schools and made a commitment to maximize their future earning potential and out-earn the ND grad by a sizable margin.

If you're impressed by sticker prices, then by all means. Attend an overvalued institution. But your college education is as much determined by what you make of it, no matter whether it's a bargain or if you're going to finance your education for a lifetime.

Would I have turned down an opportunity to attend a top-flight school? Probably not. But if the choice is between, say, a massive, expensive state school on the east coast and an affordable state school closer to home featuring smaller classes and good faculty, then the choice is quite simple.

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