hands down. public. not just public, but public in-state college. it’s a fraction of the cost. save yourself the long term pain of the debt that comes with private education and go in-state public. do it. you’ll be so glad you did 15 years from now. unless of course you manage the ivy league loophole. that upper echelon of education tends to actually be worth the premium. that cannot be said for the harvard of the rockies, or the harvard of the south, etc. with the value of a bachelors degree continuing to erode, please think it through. very carefully. do the math. the difference is profound.
i started out my college career at a private college. the cost was 3 times greater than a state school. i didn’t do the math until midway through my sophomore year. by then i had already racked up $20,000 in debt (this was 17 years go. so, that would be about $45,000 in debt in today’s numbers). i stopped and did the math. i realized i could go to a state school, work 25-30 hours a week and pay cash for my education. why hadn’t i thought of that before? it never crossed my mind. signing up for financial disaster assistance, sorry, i mean, financial aid was all i knew. my parents were not able to pay for my college education and they showed me the ropes on applying for financial aid. at 17years old lending institutions were willing to lend me upwards of $20,000 a year to go to school. i guess now that numbers is closer to $40,000. you can get $40,000 a year before you have any earning capacity much less a credit score or anything else. you can’t vote, can’t legally drink, can’t qualify for a mortgage (which could actually be less than your student loan balance in some parts of the country), can’t qualify for a car loan or much of anything else, but signing up to manage $40,000 a year in financial aid seems appropriate. hey, they’ll even let you live off the money. you have to cover that spring break trip somehow, right? i am amazed at how much money the federal government will allow a teenager to borrow when it comes to college.
anyway, i figured it out midway through my sophomore year. i did the math and it made sense. i could work and rather easily pay for college. i paid my way through the remainder of my college career. i made great friends, took great trips, worked at an awesome summer camp as a backpacking guide. i went skiing every christmas and spring break and did it all working my way through. looking back, i don’t think i gave up anything by leaving the private school for a state school. i got to watch better sports, be a part of a larger student body, have a broader range of academic choices and walk away not owing anything for it. that’s a pretty good feeling. but they don’t have my degree. really? they don’t? then i bet another in state school does. keep looking. or look for something outside of school that can supplement aspects of what you want to do. there are more options than you think. believe me, debt is a greater limiter than any degree will be.
oh, wait, but you’re going to a faith based institution. that changes everything, right? no. it doesn’t. it makes it even worse. proverbs 22:7 says, “the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” is god really calling you to go into debt for your education? really? you getting accepted and getting financial aid is your confirmation that you’re being led to that school? look, i get it. i went to a faith based college. it was great fun, but i grew up at a state school and i did it without owing a thing. if you or your parents can pay cash for it then i’m all for it. if you get a scholarship covering all costs or you can foot the remainder with cash then by all means, go, have fun. enjoy it. but, you want to be a pastor. and you really think going to a state school precludes you from begin a pastor or getting into a seminary? it doesn’t. just don’t do it. i beg you not to do it. there’s no reason. you can be a youth minister with a finance degree. you can be a pastor with a journalism degree. but what you can’t do is any of it with $100,000+ in school debt then go to seminary and tack on another $50,000-$100,000. it will handcuff you and could force you out of ministry when you have to find some other way to make ends meet.
for your own future, for your dreams and for your freedom, please slow down and think it through. consider a public in-state education.