What $80k More Gets You in Education

In his review of new pop economics books, Brad DeLong, a professor at Berkeley, says:

We here at Berkeley charge one-third the tuition of Stanford. Our students like a place where their peers don’t regard themselves as rich. We lose students who believe that the extra $80,000 is well worth paying to get Stanford’s smaller class sizes and better physical plant.

It’s a point I’ve thought about when I meet students at Claremont who, thanks to the $46,000 annual tuition, are taking on student loans which they’ll be paying off for years after graduation.

Sure, the small, private college atmosphere offers unparalleled facilities, access to top faculty, and overall very high quality of life. But is it really worth the extraordinary financial cost, particularly if it’s one you’ll be shouldering (and thus constrained by) several years after graduation?

I have my doubts. So I have enormous respect for those who choose a slightly less prestigious school for one which offers more financial aid, or those who go to public institutions to save money and keep their options open in the years after school.

Especially since it doesn’t matter a whole lot where you went to undergrad, I’m puzzled at those familes who bankrupt themselves in order to send Johnny to the most elite school he can get into.

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