Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Counting All The Costs

I've long heard about how California's colleges and universities can't be beat for value--even though tuition has risen faster than inflation for quite awhile now, the cost of a degree is still far cheaper than in most states.

Except that's not entirely accurate:

In-state fees at California's public universities may be lower than tuition at similar campuses in other states, but when living expenses are factored in, the total cost of going to college here is more, new research by the California Postsecondary Education Commission shows.

Undergraduate fees at UC Davis were $9,940 for the 2009-10 year – but the cost nearly tripled to $27,000 when meals, books and a dorm room were added in. At UC Berkeley, the report shows, the total cost for a student living on campus was even greater: $28,900.

Residents of Illinois and Michigan, by contrast, pay higher tuition at their top-flight schools, but less overall because their cost of living is lower. Undergraduate tuition, books, room and board at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, totaled $25,500 this year; it was $23,700 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

At some point we need to take off the rose-colored glasses in this state and catch a fleeting glimpse of reality.


Anonymous said...

A Google search for rentals near UCD finds a number of 1 bedroom apartments for about $700. With a roommate (and assuming that you can't sublet over the summer) this works out to $350/month per person. Or $4,200/year per person. Round up to $5,000 to include utilities and cable.

Assume food is $300/person per month? This seems quite doable if you purchase raw materials (rice, pasta, bread, beans, chicken) and cook yourself rather than purchase pre-cooked food.

So ... $3,600/year for food and $5,00/year for housing. This works out to a bit under $9K/year.

How do we get an additional $17K/year over tuition versus the $9K above? Books are horribly expensive, but not *that* much. And I don't expect food to be much cheaper in Urbana or Ann Arbor. I also don't expect rent to be *much* cheaper in the places either.

I *am* willing to believe that the students at UCD *do* spend $17K per year for food, rental, and books. But they don't *have* to do so. I suspect/wonder if the same students would pay a lot if they were at UIUC or UMich.

So ... you can attend UCD and live there for about $20K/year.

Now, out of state tuition at UMich is about $30K and I don't expect food plus housing to be much under $10K in Ann Arbor. For a Californian, UMich is $20K/year more expensive than UCD. Four years of this is $80K and five years is a cool $100K.

*In* state tuition at both UMich and UIUC is quite a deal for people who live in Michigan and Illinois just like in state tuition at a UC is quite a deal for people who live in California. But it isn't like you can move to Michigan just to attend UMich and pay in-state rates. They have figured this one out.

So ... in-state tuition is quite a deal in all three places. What is the point again?

-Mark Roulo

mazenko said...

The reality is that where schools are less well-funded by a tax base, the burden on students is more prohibitive. We should take off the rose colored glasses and look around the world at how other industrialized countries fund higher ed. They support it more than we do, though the admission requirements are far more stringent, producing a more efficient system.

Darren said...

More efficient, perhaps, but listen to certain groups scream bloody murder if we put more stringent requirements on going to college. "Disproportionate impact", anyone?