Newly elected California Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a $1.4 billion cut in funding for public higher education in that state. This draconian measure is part of an effort to address a $28 billion budget shortfall. The University of California system would face a $500 million reduction, severely affecting resources at what is considered one of the nation’s top public institutions.

How about this: for the first time, state contributions per student ($7,210) will exceed what students pay themselves, on average ($7,930).

A quality public education in California, Florida, or any other state can still be had, but it’s becoming harder to find. Over-crowded classrooms, little or no intereaction with professors, online classes – all of this combined with higher tuition and fees make the public option less valuable. While the University of Florida ranks #2 in Kiplinger’s list of Best Value Public Universities, parents and students should expect that, even there, some classes will be offered online to save the school money, a practice that can diminish the learning experience. Other classes will be just overcrowded, and don’t even think about trying to meet with a professor during office hours. Office hours? Go meet with the TA.

When compiling a list of colleges, all students should consider in-state, public schools. But don’t overlook private colleges and universities because of the sticker price. Private schools have larger endowments, which they use to award generous financial aid packages. For some, a private school can end up costing less than the public option. For others, the private school financial aid offer can certainly narrow the gap in cost, making the private option a relative bargain.

To learn more, check out www.EmergencyFinancialAid.com and register for one of my workshops.

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