Going to a public school was the best financial decision of my life
- When I was 17, my parents insisted that I only apply for public schools or those with huge scholarships.
- I graduated from public school with only a fraction of the debt I would have had if I had gone to private school.
- Some people say private schools have more to offer, but my life experience tells me otherwise.
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I vividly remember sitting in front of my laptop at 17 and applying for college. I applied for public schools and two private colleges that offered very promising scholarships. I had two more tabs open on the admissions pages for NYU and Sarah Lawrence. I looked at them and sighed.
My father was also in the room, and he turned to me and said, “I know you have the notes to get in, and I’m sorry I don’t have that kind of money, but I don’t can’t in good conscience, co-sign the types of loans you would need to attend either of these schools.”
I wanted to go to these schools, but I also knew how expensive they were compared to where I was actually applying.
I don’t know if I would have had the foresight at 17 to fully understand how much money I was taking to go to school, but I’m glad my parents did and I graduated with only $35,000 in student debt. instead of $135,000.
I paid off my student loans in years instead of decades
I actually ended up going to a private school my freshman year because I got a full scholarship for my creative writing portfolio and all I had to pay was room and board . I ended up hating it there for several reasons and transferred to a nearby SUNY school (New York State’s public school system) which was my only other affordable option in the area.
Not only do I have no regrets about it, but I’d say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my young adult life. I still had to take government loans, but no private loans, which kept all my interest rates below 8%, some up to 3.5%.
My first two jobs out of college came with pretty low salaries, but I commuted from my childhood bedroom and used the money I had saved up to meet my loans. with the avalanche debt repayment method. Within a year of graduating from college, I was able to get a better paying job and move, where I continued to funnel whatever savings I could into my loans.
I paid for my undergraduate degree three and a half years after completing the program. I actually ended up taking night school to get my masters degree from a public college in New York shortly after, and now I have a masters degree and no debt until I was 30, all thanks to the public university system.
I don’t think it’s true that private schools provide more opportunities for alumni
Sometimes I hear this idea that by enrolling in a private university, you buy yourself more future opportunities through their alumni networks.
I’m sure it’s true that if you go to an Ivy League university, you might meet people who will hold very powerful positions in the future. But when I think of the ever-increasing number of people enrolling in four-year colleges, I can’t help but wonder if it’s reasonable to expect every one of those students to get a job that is a pretty good compromise. looking at a future with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
From my own experience, I’ve had no problem advancing my career through my own alumni network. In fact, this job I have right now is one I was told about and recommended by a fellow graduate from SUNY Purchase.
Sometimes there are funding issues at public colleges, but that has never discouraged me.
It is true that sometimes public schools may experience funding issues for some of their programs and facilities. There have been times when I looked at the crumbling infrastructure or the scarcity of grants for academic work at my school and thought it would be nicer to have something more.
But, the reason that public colleges can keep their tuition so much lower than other schools is because they are subsidized by the state, and sometimes the state cuts their funding for one reason or another. I never thought the best answer to this was to drop out of public universities and enroll in prohibitively expensive private schools.
My sophomore year, I took a bus to Albany with a group of student activists and lobbied the state government for more funding for SUNY schools like mine, and I can say that nearly 10 years later, my stance on the matter hasn’t changed at all.