Best College Deals: In State, Out of State and Beyond

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —While debating whether college was worth it for my high-school senior, and freaking out over the sticker-shock of college pricing, I began to get advice about other ways to save on college even without financial aid. It came from fellow parents via that most reliable source of information of contemporary times…er, Facebook.

Think In State

“We went through this process last year for our eldest daughter Abby,” wrote Wendy Cheng of Gaithersburg, Maryland—whose post garnered an instant "like." After earning acceptance from all four colleges she applied to, Abby chose to go her state flagship school, the University of Maryland at College Park. “UMD did not offer her anything in terms of merit aid,” Wendy wrote, “but we did save some money by her not going out of state or attending private colleges.”

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Actually, as I soon discovered, the Cheng family hit the trifecta in terms of getting a deal on college by choosing a school that was 1) public 2) in state and 3) on the list of the “Best Value” schools in America. According to Kiplinger's Best Values in Public Colleges list, UMD comes in at number five (Kiplinger’s lists are based on data by Petersons.com)

Go Public

Choosing a public college over a private one can, in general, save several thousand dollars, because the price of tuition is subsidized. This is made obvious by the nearly $8,000 difference between the most expensive public college in Kiplinger’s top 100 (University of California, Santa Cruz, price-tag: $52,557) and the most expensive one on its private list (New York University, price-tag: $60,407 per year.) It’s also supported by the National Center for Education Statistics, which shows the average annual price for public colleges is over $18,000 cheaper than the average price of private ones.