In a recent post on The Choice, Mark Kantrowitz, founder of FinAid.org, states that, overall, public colleges provide students with a better rate of return on their tuition dollars than do highly selective colleges (a group that is predominantly private).
Does this mean you should stop dreaming of attending an elite college? Absolutely not. For the most part, these are wonderful schools with well-deserved reputations. And some offer generous financial aid packages that can make them less expensive than a public college would be.
That being said, the National Bureau of Economic Research has found that when two students with the same grades, test scores, etc. attend different schools—one more prestigious than the other—there is no real difference in the amount of money that these students earn after graduation.
Stated in another way, it is a student’s qualities—not his college’s—that are mainly responsible for his financial outcome.
What's your take-away here? If a prestigious school with a high cost of attendance offers enough aid so that it is affordable to you and your family, you shouldn’t refrain from enrolling (provided it is a good fit, of course). However, you should not choose a school that will require you to borrow significantly more than another under the assumption that its good reputation will set you on a much more lucrative path in life.
Click here to read more on The Choice.