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Academic Accounting: Weighing the Cost of Colleges

A guest blogger submission by Brielle, an intern in Susquehanna’s Corporate Communications Department:

As a college senior, I have seen the trials and tribulations regarding finances from a student’s perspective. The common question on campus seems to be, “How much debt will you have when you graduate?”

Weighing College CostsWhen I was a high school senior, my father and I sat down at a local café to discuss the cost of my undergraduate degree. He started by reminding me that I would be paying for my education no matter what school I decided to attend. He was able to be objective in his assessment, and gave me the financial facts. At the time, my dad was a Millersville University professor and I had been told since the age of 11 that I would receive free tuition if I attended.

Being determined to leave Lancaster County, I had only applied to Drexel University and Rider University, which had both accepted me. Rider University was my top pick and I was “all set.” However, I would still owe $17,000 a year, not including fees and books.

As we sat at the café, I realized my dad’s argument to attend Millersville University was financially wise. Even with the $22,000 in scholarships from Rider University, how could I justify spending around $70,000 for an undergraduate degree? At the age of 17, I recognized how long it took me to earn a fraction of that amount. Ultimately, Millersville and the assurance of free tuition won out.

After hard work and determination, I will be graduating debt-free this coming May. I recognize how fortunate I am to have a dad who emphasized the importance of building credit responsibly, while avoiding excessive debt. I also appreciate the privilege of receiving free tuition.

However, the most important lesson I learned was to make a decision on what is financially sound, rather than just on what seems to be the most glamorous or exciting. In addition to receiving a good education, I tried to take every opportunity available and am leaving with a resumé full of experience. I have found what you gain from a college career is mainly what you decide to make of it.

Plus, graduating without a cloud of debt hanging over my head will provide me with more flexibility. For example, I will be able to be more selective in choosing a job or relocate without financial concern. When considering colleges, weigh the financial outcomes, and your bank account will thank you.

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Posted in Financial Education.

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