I’ve written a bit about a recent WSJ article pointing out that the online price calculators are often wildly wrong. And who’s surprised? These are institutions where they spend years and years studying treatments for disease and still can’t replicate the results. These are places where entire departments can’t decide whether they’re pro-sex feminists or just believers that sex is terrible way for men to oppress women. Why should we expect them to be able to tell a consistent story about the price?
Bob Samuels, my favorite U. Cal blogger, has an intriguing post about the financial aid calculators at UCLA. The official blather is that families that make less than $80,000 will pay no tuition. Whoo hoo! So Mr. Samuels went to the UCLA calculator and plugged in a family income of $75k. What was the price? $31k for a year that’s really only about 30 some weeks long. Ooops.
But it gets worse, much worse. Mr. Samuels noticed that the price was cut by ambiguous terms like “Self Help” and “Family Help” awards. What are they? No one knows! He poked around the web site and found no answer. He called up people in the financial aid office and they didn’t know! One did admit that Mr. Samuels’s suspicions may be correct: these might actually be loans.
So there you have it. Compare the PR Office:
“UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan will cover your educational and student services fees if you are a California resident whose family earns less than $80,000 a year and you qualify for financial aid — and that’s just for starters.”
The reality as experienced by a real person posting in the online forums:
Aid Year Totals: 31,965.00
I’m very confused and don’t know if this is a good aid package. Can someone please explain it to me? My family’s income is under 80,000 and supposedly the UC systems Blue & Gold program is supposed to cover my tuition. Why is it not displayed?
So there you have it. The PR flacks are claiming they’re offering big tuition discounts but anyone who tries to get them can’t find them. For some reason, the money just isn’t there when you try to actually request it.
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