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zyrolasting

Is tuition ever a problem?

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Outside sites mention that students that excel should not worry about tuition and should try to apply at better colleges despite financial and geographical restrictions. Is this true? I'm a CPE major, and I want to go to MIT so I can transfer from the community college I'm in now.

[Edited by - zyrolasting on July 14, 2010 6:20:31 PM]

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Original post by zyrolasting
Outside sites mention that students that excel should not worry about tuition and should try to apply at better colleges despite financial and geographical restrictions. Is this true? I'm a CPE major, and I want to go to MIT so I can transfer from the community college I'm in now.
There are a couple of factors at work. First off, the large private universities (MIT, Harvard, Yale, etc.) have an awful lot more money to throw around than smaller/state schools, so they can afford to be a lot more generous with financial aid. Quite a few of those schools even guarantee that you will be able to afford to attend, if you are accepted (i.e. they will find you sufficient grants/loans to cover the cost). On the flip side, those schools are substantially harder to get into...

Lower-tier private schools (such as Suffolk, where I go) cost a bit less, and often provide decent financial aid to their top students, but you aren't likely to see a full scholarship, and if your grades slip, prepare to lose the majority of your funding.

State schools are generally pretty cheap (and some of them are extremely good), and a fair amount of state financial aid is typically available, which you don't see as much in private universities.

All in all, if you are an exceptional student (I am talking 4.0 GPA, plenty of extra curricular, etc.) you can go anywhere and not worry about the cost. If you are merely in the top few percent, probably better to keep an eye on cost vs financial aid as you apply.

Most universities also publish statistics on average financial aid package, percentage of financial need met, etc. - try the college board website as a good place to start.

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Honestly this is all depends on your situation, filing for FAFSA and how much is covered is entirely based on household income, I believe but not positive up until a certain age I think it was 23 you still have to count your parents income, which can cause a problems getting enough financial aid. Also if income isn't a problem for financial aid, you might find it hard to get approved for a private loan and most likely you will need a co-signer, if you can't do that, than you might have to work out a payment plan through the college, which would require you to work and attend school, which can be pretty tough and say good buy to your free-time. There are a lot of factors, there was an academic year where the economy first dropped they made it hard to get private loans and ended up having to do a deal with my school which had crazy interest if not paid off by the time I graduated, this is the worst choice but luckily it was only to cover the last $3000 on my tuition so it wasn't hard to pay back, but I had a monthly payment due of $150 which sucked really bad.

Just be careful and make sure you have it figured out. Not being able to attend for a little bit would really make it hard to stay on top since you have 6 month before you have to start paying back your loans. It really happens to people and it almost happened to me luckily the school had a plan just in case of this, which I think some school really do, but think if you are single living on your own paying bills adding $150 to your monthly bills as a student can be really taxing and hinder your overall GPA bad and depending on the school and be anything lower than 3.0 and you are on probation and possibly won't be able to finish your degree at that college.

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than you might have to work out a payment plan through the college, which would require you to work and attend school,

Mississippi State has a co-op program that I can take advantage of. Hopefully there are paid internships.

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State schools are generally pretty cheap (and some of them are extremely good), and a fair amount of state financial aid is typically available, which you don't see as much in private universities.

Would it be a good move to use a state university as a stepping stone to a more prestigious university?

[Edited by - zyrolasting on July 14, 2010 7:40:33 PM]

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Outside sites mention that students that excel should not worry about tuition and should try to apply at better colleges despite financial and geographical restrictions. Is this true?

It's true for students that excel exceptionally. Many schools would clamor to get really excellent students who'll make the school look good. "Clamor" means "waive the usual high tuition."
So the question is, are you the especially gifted student that can ask for that? If not, then go for the school you can afford.

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Would it be a good move to use a state university as a stepping stone to a more prestigious university?
It can be, if that's the path you want to follow.


I'm very curious about one thing:

Why specifically do you want to go to a big-name "prestigious" school?



Most people go to school for their education. They want to learn the topics behind computer science that they can use for their professional career.

High-profile schools can help provide a learning environment, but so can low-profile schools. It is possible to achieve an excellent education at basically any accredited school so long as you apply yourself.

In game development you will see practically no difference in employment (either salary or employability) just because of a big-name school.

Is there some specific reason you want to attend that specific school?

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Outside sites mention that students that excel should not worry about tuition and should try to apply at better colleges despite financial and geographical restrictions. Is this true?


They are correct that you should seek the school that is best FOR YOU.

The best school FOR YOU is the school that YOU can best learn and grow. It is a school that YOU feel comfortable learning. It is a school that YOU can feel comfortable when making mistakes. It is a school that YOU can afford. It is a degree program that YOU are able to complete. That's a highly personal choice.

You should absolutely apply at the costly schools, along with the less expensive ones. Sending out applications is inexpensive. You might get accepted at the schools, there's no way to know. But you should still apply at the local state schools as a backup plan.


Financial aid is available, including scholarships from the school to reduce the effective tuition rates. But scholarships and grants can have high requirements and loans are not free. Make sure you evaluate the financial realities of your choice with your family before making the final decision.

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In general, you should go to the best school you can get into. 'Best' being some balance between prestige/education/somewhere you'll succeed (because the first two are useless if you can't graduate). Education and degree prestige (and indirectly, the contacts/friends you gain) will impact your career (read: income) for the some 40 years you'll be in the work force. That almost always is way better than the initial cost.

There are a few places where it's not the case. If your degree isn't going directly to your profession, or your profession doesn't really put much interest in degrees. Spending $200k for a creative writing degree probably isn't worth it. If you have some congenital disease, or otherwise expect to die at 30... you're probably not going to recoup the investment.

In general though, your education will likely be one of the three most important decisions/investments you'll make in your entire life (along side marriage and home ownership). Don't short change yourself for the relatively short term impact of student loans, or geographical inconvenience.

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Is there some specific reason you want to attend that specific school?


All conversations I've had about good computer science and engineering schools gravitate towards MIT. When I wrote code that allowed novice users to create, change and map multiple custom cypto algorithms to individual files, a professor recommended that I submit my design documents to MIT. I was greeted by orgasmic yelps when I told my family. At first, much of my desire to go came from "grass-is-greener" tales.

I have not chiseled MIT in stone since I am not sure what criteria I should use to determine what college is best for me. (Probably because many university websites are notoriously difficult to navigate, so I learn little more than school colors...)

Still, I trust MIT's has connections (big reason), and their projected reputation will only make me look that much better with a degree from them.

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But you should still apply at the local state schools as a backup plan.


Absolutely. I'm looking to get back in Mississippi State next month for the Fall Semester, and have a community college as a last resort at the moment. I can not meet MIT's prerequisites for at least another year.


[Edited by - zyrolasting on July 14, 2010 10:37:43 PM]

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Still, I trust MIT's has connections (big reason), and their projected reputation will only make me look that much better with a degree from them.
MIT has an excellent computer science program, but so do Stanford, CalTech, UC Berklee, Yale and UNC Chapel Hill, to name just a few.

If you have your heart set on MIT, and have the grades to get in, then by all means go for it, but don't regard it as the only place worthwhile to study computer science...

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but don't regard it as the only place worthwhile to study computer science...


Thank you, I'll certainly keep that in mind. Stanford is a close second.

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