The worst colleges cost the most for low-income students
Many students and families assume that the more expensive a college is, the more prestigious and the higher its quality.
This leads some families to overpay for college under the assumption that there is a positive correlation between price and education quality.
But a recent report from Third Way found that that’s not the case.
In fact, they found the lowest-ranked colleges charged low- and moderate-income students more than higher-ranked schools.
Lower quality colleges are more expensive
The chart below shows how the average and median net prices of colleges for families making less than $48,000 varied depending on the quality of the college.
They determined college quality (ranked by quartiles) based on information from the Department of Education’s College Scorecard on graduation rates, net price, graduate earnings, student loan repayment rates and the percentage of students who received a Pell Grant.
This data provides further proof of why it’s important to minimize your college costs. There are no guarantees at any college, but don’t assume paying more means you’re receiving a better education.
The cheapest quality colleges for low-income families
Luckily, there are still many high-quality colleges that offer a great education for a low price to families making under $48,000 per year.
Kettering University in Flint, Michigan charges low- and moderate-income families an average net price of just $879–less than the cost of most students’ textbooks for a semester.
In fact, many of the colleges that cost the least are among the best in the country, including Harvard University, Amherst College, and Stanford University.
The best colleges can cost the least
When it comes to college, you don’t always get what you pay for.
Low-quality or for-profit colleges with poor outcomes often cost students the most, and excellent colleges can actually cost the least due to large endowments and generous financial aid packages.
Because net prices can vary greatly, you shouldn’t let the listed cost of a college stop you from applying. Focusing more on colleges with high graduation rates, low student debt and low net prices will help ensure you’re left with high-quality, affordable college options once you receive your financial aid awards.
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