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Sunday, March 29, 2015


Since 1985 the U.S. expense of attending college has jumped by 500 percent, and tuition keeps rising. For this year, the average cost of attending a typical state college was $23,410, with $46,272 for a private institution.  You read that we don't have enough students in science and engineering.  Well, for one, you need to study harder for those pathways, and two, should expect to pay $5,000/year more for this privilege.

"Outstanding student loan balances reported on credit reports increased to $1.13 trillion (an increase of $8 billion) as of September 30, 2014, representing about $100 billion increase from one year ago," the bank said in its latest report on household debt and credit.

All the above can be depressing for any family with hopes and dreams of a better future.  More so is the below:

Somehow, though, more are graduating from high schools and universities:

Mind you, not everyone should go to college.  Some will be happier with technical and service skills, and, of course, neither Bill Gates nor Steve Jobs actually graduated from any university.  Yet, a college degree will substantially improve your status in life:

Clearly, if you are really, really smart, with a great high school record, a straight A average, served as student body president and quarterback of your state championship football team, with only limited parental support (less than $60.000/year), all of top higher education institutions will pay for your entire college experience, room and board included.  Read my posting on HOW TO GO TO STANFORD FOR ALMOST FREE.  

But, let's face it, most of us are merely average.  How then can you afford college?  In our country, read this article for institutions which charge no tuition.  How many of you have ever heard of Deep Springs College in California?

Each of its 26 students receives a full-scholarship valued at over $50,000 per year. Students work, at a minimum, 20 hours per week on the ranch or farm, or in positions related to the college or community.

Want to go to Harvard?

Beginning with the Class of 2016, families with incomes between $65,000 and $150,000 will contribute from 0% to 10% of income, and those with incomes above $150,000 will be asked to pay proportionately more than 10%, based on their individual circumstances.

But there is a problem, for:

Harvard has a 6% acceptance rate and a 97% first-year, full-time student retention rate. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 690/790; math: 700/800; and writing: 690/790.

Anyway, check out a range of colleges throughout the USA for values.  Some of those listings make no sense, for here, Kiplinger rates the 25 best low debt and high return on investment universities.  Caltech, also known as the California Institute of Technology, is rated #1.  To quote:

Average Student Debt: $13,442
30 year net ROI above non-degree holders: $1.99 Million
We hope that this list of the best value universities is of great help to you as you conduct your search for the best matching college program for you. For further reading, please see: 25 Best Value Colleges 2014 and 30 Best Affordable Online Colleges 2014.
The problem is that the odds on your getting into Caltech are like winning a national lottery.  And if you do, you will still pay $53,000/year to try to academically survive.  I almost went there.

If you want FREE tuition, several countries in Europe now don't charge to attend, and teach courses in English.
  • Germany now is a tuition free country.  Why do they bother subsidizing foreigners?  It is said that the international mix makes for a better educational experience:
Americans can earn a German undergraduate or graduate degree without speaking a word of German and without having to pay a single dollar of tuition fees: About 900 undergraduate or graduate degrees are offered exclusively in English, with courses ranging from engineering to social sciences. For some German degrees, you don't even have to formally apply.
  • Finland
This northern European country charges no tuition fees, and it offers a large number of university programs in English. However, the Finnish government amiably reminds interested foreigners that they "are expected to independently cover all everyday living expenses."
  • Norway
Norwegian universities do not charge tuition fees for international students. The Norwegian higher education system is similar to the one in the United States: Class sizes are small and professors are easily approachable. Many Norwegian universities offer programs taught in English. American students, for example, could choose "Advanced Studies for Solo Instrumentalists or Chamber Music Ensembles" or "Development Geography."

  • Brazil
Some Brazilian courses are taught in English, and state universities charge only minor registration fees. Times Higher Education ranks two Brazilian universities among the world's top 400: the University of Sao Paulo and the State University of Campinas. However, Brazil might be better suited for exchange students seeking a cultural experience rather than a degree.

So how might you live and eat while not paying any tuition?  Well, try Study Abroad.  Also homestays, farmsteads, hostels and a variety of experiential and cheaper independent options.

I've merely scratched the surface.  For the adventurous, there are numerous options for education beyond high school.  If you really want to go to college, you can find a way.  Here are five suggestions, including serving your country.


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