Berkeley universities

College tool displays degree costs, post-graduation salaries and more

Students in Stanford University’s English program can expect to earn around $ 24,000 two years after graduating from the prestigious private university. Just down the street, students who earn a two-year associate’s degree through Foothill College in the allied health professions of diagnosis, intervention, and treatment can expect to earn around $ 113,000.

Philosophy students at the highly selective UC Berkeley can expect to earn around $ 21,000 soon after graduation – having shelled out over $ 15,000 per year for the degree. At Cal State East Bay in Hayward, which costs around $ 11,000 a year, students who earn a bachelor’s degree in construction management can expect to earn around $ 80,000.

The mind-boggling disparities are just a few of the data families and students can glean from the US Department of Education’s recently updated College Scorecard, which aims to give a realistic idea of ​​the financial costs – and the payoffs – of higher education.

As high schoolers in the Bay Area apply to colleges this fall and students try to decide on specializations and careers to pursue, the tool can help determine which schools might be suitable. The dashboard shows graduation rates and allows families to calculate how much a school will actually cost out of pocket, as well as the value of a specific degree after graduation. The results are not always intuitive and often run counter to popular rankings. And they almost always offer a fresh perspective on the value of some of the Bay Area’s most sought-after schools.

Surprisingly, well-funded universities like Stanford that are widely perceived to be expensive – listed tuition fees are over $ 55,000 – may actually be more affordable for many families than public schools… if you can be admitted. According to the tool, the average annual cost of attending Stanford is around $ 11,500 – that’s all about books and supplies – since the school fully covers tuition, room and board. meals for many of its students. On average, nearby UC Santa Cruz costs over $ 18,000 per year, but it’s still far less than its advertised price of around $ 38,000 for tuition, room and board on campus. and other expenses.

The tool has some limitations. The data is based on students who receive federal financial aid – think Pell scholarships and federal loans – and it doesn’t account for things like out-of-state tuition fees. The salaries it generates are median annual earnings two years after a student has graduated and only people who work are included, so students who pursue higher education instead of joining the labor market are not included. are not covered. Some of the salaries for specific programs are calculated based on a few graduates only.

Yet at a time when many families struggle to make sense of a myriad of rankings, the scorecard provides students with insightful comparisons.

It shows that with financial assistance, the average cost to attend UC Berkeley is about the same as in the state of San Jose. But while an electrical engineering degree from Cal earned graduates an average annual salary of over $ 128,000 two years after school, an engineering degree from SJSU earned less than $ 79,000.

But the CSU vs. UC debate can be reversed when it comes to IT. A computer science graduate from UC Santa Cruz, where the average annual cost is about $ 18,000, earned about $ 63,500 a few years after graduation. But someone with the same SJSU degree, which costs about $ 3,000 less per year than UC Santa Cruz, was making about $ 75,000.

Marlon Saechao is a senior in the State of San Jose studying Corporate Marketing. The scorecard shows that graduate business students earned more than $ 48,000 after graduation. This is much less than nursing graduates, who earned over $ 90,000, but much more than liberal arts graduates, who earned less than $ 30,000.

“A lot of different factors came into play” when it came to choosing a university and a major, Saechao said. “In my case it had to do with convenience and return on investment, because I feel like the amount of money (SJSU cost) compared to the University of Santa Clara or other places was good, and the alumni network was much larger… and they have a good reputation.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – JULY 21: Marlon Saechao poses for a portrait on the campus of San Jose State University in downtown San Jose, Calif. On Wednesday, July 21, 2021 (Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group)

Saechao, who said he thought he saw the dashboard online, said he looked for programs that allowed him to be creative, but not deprived either.

“I didn’t want to do art for financial reasons,” he said.

Tanya Enriquez, Head of Bay Area Regional Councils at uAspire, a nonprofit that helps young people get the financial information and resources they need to find affordable college options without getting bogged down in crippling debt, said that as the pandemic disrupted campus communities and dorm life, more of the students his organization works with have started to rethink their plans and increasingly opt for a community college. A degree from Foothill College? Less than $ 4000 per year.

“They save a lot of money,” she said.

Of course, there are other factors such as distance from home, size of university, and selectivity – a computer science degree from Stanford will earn a salary of over $ 136,000, but hardly anyone does. enters the program – and less quantifiable factors like campus culture to consider. . Social pressures and notions of what makes a “good” or “bad” school are also deep.

Wei-Li Sun, an admissions consultant who helps students apply to the University of California system, said the dashboard provides useful information, but many families she works with don’t think about future income. or not cost as much as if their students can be admitted to the system’s highly reputable competitive schools.

“At the end of the day, it’s a complicated problem because families come into the process with different expectations and different levels of being misinformed,” Sun said.

This can leave some families who thought CUs affordable – and potentially write off other options that were perceived to be right or not as expensive – with debts they didn’t anticipate.

Terri Forman is the Executive Director of First Graduate, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that helps first-generation students navigate the application process. The dashboard, she said, is a tool for finding schools that might be suitable.

“The biggest hurdle for our students is just the idea – is college affordable? ” she said. “Some may think they can only go to community college because (a four-year college) is too expensive.”

As the dashboard shows, that’s not necessarily true – and many schools and organizations offer scholarships and grants that dramatically reduce posted costs.

At Holy Names University in Oakland, the total estimated costs for one year are nearly $ 55,000. But the dashboard says the cost is much lower, around $ 23,000. And students who study nursing there can expect to earn over $ 86,000 after graduation. Compare that to Chabot College, a two-year community college in Hayward, where the average annual cost is around $ 4,000, and the recipient of an associate’s degree in nursing can expect to earn almost $ 70. $ 000.

“There are,” Forman said, “so many wonderful schools.”


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