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Cal more prestigious than Harvard

Harvard cheaper than Cal

Harvard-vs-Cal

Harvard vs. Cal

I guess this means that an education from Cal is more valuable than an education from Harvard?  Not impossible, but an interesting shift has occurred.   Harvard College is now thousands of dollars cheaper than Cal State East Bay for middle-income California students.  So is Princeton. And Williams College. And Yale.

Top private schools, with their generous aid, have been among the most affordable options for poor students for a few years, but rising tuition has only recently sent California State University and University of California prices shooting past the Harvards and Yales for middle-class students.

The revelation comes as thousands of college and university students on Monday march to protest budget cuts in Sacramento that have forced up tuition and shaken campuses.

It’s almost unthinkable in a state that once practically gave away college educations.

“We are coming close to pricing out many of our middle-class students,” said Rhonda Johnson, Cal State East Bay’s financial-aid director. “Now we’re seeing a disadvantaged middle class.”

College-cost calculators illuminate the dramatic shifts.  Consider a family of four — married parents, a high-school senior and a 14-year-old child — making $130,000 a year.

With typical aid,¿ the family should expect to pay nearly $24,000 for a Cal State freshman’s tuition, on-campus room and board, supplies and other expenses. At Harvard? Just $17,000, even though its stated annual tuition is $36,305.

The same family would pay about $33,000 for a freshman year at UC Santa Cruz.  UC Berkeley, which recently followed the lead of private colleges by boosting aid for middle-class families, would cost $19,500.

“It does sort of put you in an awkward spot,” said Dean Kulju, financial-aid director of the 400,000-student Cal State system, which has more than doubled tuition since 2007.

It is more than awkward, one student said.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Cal State Fresno senior Chucho Mendoza, who said he has spent seven years in college because he also works to support his parents and siblings.

“Students think they’re getting a pretty good deal here,” he said. “I think they’re in denial.”

Add to the equation that students at smaller private colleges often can graduate sooner, saving thousands of dollars over California’s public universities, where cuts have made it difficult to get all required classes in four years.

Families and students considering Cal State “do have to think of it as a five-year proposition, at least,” said Vicki O’Day, a Menlo Park college-admissions consultant.

Public-university leaders say they are frustrated that budget cuts have sent tuition soaring. And so are state and federal lawmakers.

President Barack Obama announced in January a plan to force colleges to slow tuition increases or risk losing student aid. And California Assembly Speaker John Perez recently proposed scholarships for students whose families make up to $150,000.

The 10-campus UC system has tried to help low- and middle-income students, covering tuition — but not room and board — for those whose families make less than $80,000.

UC President Mark Yudof said the university is still a better deal than all but the wealthiest private colleges.

“If you move away from the Harvards and Stanfords of the world, I’m not sure it’s as affordable at other private schools,” he said. “I hate to lose any students, but how many students can go to Stanford?”

Read more here.

Start saving for college here.

 

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