There are a few people I know in the college industrial complex who are so cynical that they’ve settled into recycling the old used car salesman jokes. How do they know the Dean/President/Chair is lying? Their lips are moving.
I try to avoid that, but college industrial complex sure makes it hard. As I’ve noted in the past, there’s a stunning gap between the low-cost rhetoric and the real stats we see floating around. Princeton University loves to brag about its no loan policy but the graduates leave with an average loan of about $6500. Shouldn’t it be zero if there really are no loans?
This difference between PR blather and reality is everywhere. Why the University of Pennsylvania also likes to prattle on about affordability, but most of their own case studies pile on loans on the back of the parents by jacking up the expected parental contribution.
So what’s new? Now that everyone has these college cost calculators, people are finding that the numbers don’t match up with reality. Rachel Louise Ensign at the Wall Street Journal reports that they’re often off by a few thousand and sometimes off by much more.
Bryce Boyd, a high-school senior in Hagerstown, Md., used this tactic this month when the University of Southern California’s official calculation pegged his expected family contribution—a measure that helps a college determine aid—at around $30,000, even though the calculator had put it at just over $16,000.
“I was devastated,” he says. “It had been my first choice all along, and the award was so vastly different than what the calculator had told me.”
And if the kids think they’re getting the run around now, wait until they graduate and figure how just how much their degree is worth.