Best Value Colleges? Getting More for your TAP Dollar {Part II}

tuition assistance

Last week, we talked about factoring price into the college search, and whether a bargain education was a true possibility or the equivalent of a mythological Yeti. This week, we take a look at exactly how to find those bargains, or "best value colleges." Here are few tips to keep in mind when considering costs for Higher Ed.

Investigate Beyond the List Price

Listed tuition rates are like sticker prices on cars. Your goal should be to pay less than the sticker price, but when everything adds up, you may end up paying more. Always look to see what is bundled (or not bundled) in the price. What fees are included? Is there a cost to setting up a payment plan? At the end of the day, what is the net amount you will need to pay?

Put "Fit" Before Name Brand

Higher "rankings" do not mean better "fit." As my colleagues and I have written in previous blog entries, there are a number of factors that go into college rankings, especially those from the US News and World Report. And unfortunately, many of those factors do not impact the adult learner who may be going back to school using their company tuition assistance program. For an online learner going back to get a Master's degree, how important is the university athletic center, residence halls, and reputation among competitor colleges? Those items all play a role in traditional ranking systems, so keep that in mind. The best program for you may not even appear in major rankings, but may have a brand new program in an area that will give you a very specific skillset that you can apply to your current job on day one. Make sure to factor things like that into your decision.

Embrace the Discounts

Terms like "sale," "bargain," and "discount" are often considered taboo in the world of higher ed. But the bottom line is that, in today's society, colleges need to run like businesses to survive. There's nothing wrong with that, so don't be alarmed if you receive a "sale" price. It doesn't diminish the value of the program. On the contrary, the best value colleges are often more in-tune with the needs of the adult learner than competitor schools. EdAssist works closely with over 200 colleges and universities in our Education Network who truly understand the cost concerns of our client employees. They've developed tuition reduction programs to ensure that students can afford an education. They're all regionally accredited colleges and universities with strong academic programs, and their programs are fantastic.

Summing it Up: Finding the Best Value College

The bottom line is that overall, tuition rates are at an all-time high in this country. In fact, they have increased 1120% in the last 30 years. But that doesn't mean a great college education can't still be affordable for those that are willing to put the time and energy into finding themselves the right school.

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.