The Costs of Education…..Theological and Otherwise

With Jan. 1 (the official start of the 2009-2010 financial aid season) rapidly approaching, I thought this was a good time to talk about money.  And since I have a cousin who is a senor in high school this year I decided to take a trip around the internet and look at the costs of higher education. Let’s take a quick check of the prices of some schools.

At the University of Missouri the costs for a year of school is roughly $16,000 for undergrads. This, of course, does not include the fees that are associated with taking a music class, a journalism class, an agriculture class, an engineering class, or a business class. Or being in a Teacher Ed. field placement.

Earlham costs $40,844 a year.

Hampshire costs $47,869 a year. 

Berea (if students paid tuition) costs $30,512 a year.

And let’s not talk about graduate programs.

But I will talk about seminaries. All of these costs are tuition and fees only.

Starr King is roughly $12,000 a year.

Meadville is $1,400 per credit.  $1,500 if the person is in the modified residency program.

Eden Theological is $11,600 a year.

Harvard is $24,940 a year.

Andover-Newton is roughly $11,500 a year.

United (in the Twin Cities) is roughly $10,500 a year.

Drew is $14,578 a year.

So let’s do a little calculation. Four years as an undergrad can range anywhere from $64,000 on the low end to $200,000+.

If one wants to go to seminary the prices range from roughly $30,000+ to $80,000+; of course this assumes that the person is going to do it in 3 years. If you add a 4th year (which seems to be the average) then you’re looking at $40,000+ to $100,000+. And this doesn’t add in having a place to sleep, eat, and being able to wash clothes.

So is it any wonder that people are choosing high-pay professions?  When you’re walking out of undergrad with unimaginable debt loads (even from a state school), how can you encourage people to go into professions (teaching, social work, etc.) where the pay isn’t that good yet the impact may be immeasurable?

I’ll end it here for now. More later.


3 thoughts on “The Costs of Education…..Theological and Otherwise

  1. Amen.

    The MRP program (for which I’m quite grateful) at Meadville means that you may well add travel costs to get to the site (Chicago, or Ferry Beach, ME, or… somewhere else) for a week-long class. Plus short term housing and so forth. My calculation is that the tuition–class fees only–for my M.Div. will run about $38,000. That’s assuming that I only take the exact required number of classes to meet the degree requirements. Plus something like $4000 ($1000/yr) in air fares to get where I need to be when I need to be there. That may be a little conservative. But I live about as far from Chicago as one gets in the lower 48. So–comparable to Earlham..

    Plus the convocation fees, other fees, charges, surcharges, taxes.

    Oh, and books. Must not forget the books.

    Plus housing, etc., etc., etc.

    $50,000 sounds like a safe number.

    Now, I paid off my undergrad debt some years ago. But the idea’s not really different. Here I am doing this when by the time I’m done we’ll have one kid in college and one about ready to go. So obviously we’ll be ready to have me in a helping profession….

  2. Kim wrote:
    “So let’s do a little calculation. Four years as an undergrad can range anywhere from $64,000 on the low end to $200,000+.”

    Wow — I’m a parent of college student (junior year) and a high school student (senior year).

    $64,000 sounds a little high for the low-end undergrad degree costs.

    My daughter’s tuition at Northwestern State University (Natchitoches, Louisiana) is approximately $2,200 per semester (including lab and materials fees for her theater classes, student activity fees, parking fee, etc).

    Her rent is $150.00 per month for her share of a house just a few miles off-campus (this is a 12 month per year expense).

    Her utilities (water, gas, electric, internet) run about $60.00 per month from August to May (this is a 10 months a year expense).

    Books cost about $300.00 per semester.

    I put $50.00 per week in my daughter’s bank account for food and other incidental expenses. Even though she is living at home during the summer (and should in theory have no incidental expenses), I continue with this weekly allotment so she can save most of her summer job paychecks instead of spending them during the summer.

    There are a few expenses that don’t show up in this total — her cell phone is on the family’s cell phone bill so we can keep in touch with each other.

    Likewise, her auto insurance for her used car she uses for commuting to class is on the family bill (keeping her on our policy is cheaper overall due to the family multi-car discount).

    A laptop computer seems to be almost essential for a student in school today. Since my daughter isn’t a techie person, we got her a Macbook because it would be easier to maintain than a Wintel laptop computer. If we were really looking at constraining costs, we could go with a Ubuntu Linux laptop for about $550.00 (but this would assume more computer experience than my daughter has).

    So — for four years at NSU, my daughter’s expenses would look like this:

    Tuition – 8 semesters @ $2,200/semester = $17,600

    Books – 8 semesters @ $300/semester = $2,400

    Housing – 48 months @ $150/month = $7,200

    Utilities – 40 months @ $60/month = $2,400

    Food/Incidentals – 208 weeks @ $50/week = $10,400

    This comes up to $40,000 for 4 years of state-supported college for an undergrad degree.

    While it’s not an order-of-magnitude difference from your $64,000 low-end total, it’s a significantly lower sum (37.5% lower).

    It’s not fun doing this as a middle-class family but we are paying as we go without student loans for our oldest kid.

    The year she graduates from college is the same year her younger brother graduates from high school (this means only one kid in college at a time). We like to tell people we planned ahead but we really didn’t — this is just how the kid spacing worked out.

  3. Now if you want to feel better, you could think about how the part time program at Georgetown Law is $28,000 per year for four years, and that’s before books, housing, etc.

    Fine if you’re headed straight into a $100,000 per year biglaw job. Not so much if you have other plans.

    who, of course, has other plans.

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