Paying for College

College Costs: Are More Expensive Schools Better?

You've probably heard the saying, “You get what you pay for." I have found that to be generally true. Most of the more expensive items that I've purchased over the years have served me well. I'm thinking of clothes that have worn like iron and tools that have been through many homeowner wars and just keep on working. No doubt, you can probably think of some good examples too. However, you can also probably identify some lesser-expensive (maybe even cheap) items that have provided you with unusually good service, despite their low cost. One example that comes to my mind is a few used Honda automobiles, which I bought for relatively low cost. They gave me many years of reliable service. I received a remarkably high return on my investment.

When it comes to college, though, the picture can become confusing. Have you ever wondered if a high price tag means that a certain college delivers a high-quality education? Let's examine some issues.

Higher education can be a lot like any other consumer product. In many cases, you'll get what you pay for. Aside from its Nobel-laureate-laden faculty, one aspect of the top-priced schools that struck me recently while walking the grounds of a picturesque Ivy League university is the advantage of a quality physical plant. By this I mean modern facilities: newer classroom buildings, clean and shiny living accommodations, sophisticated sports facilities, comfortable (and don't forget tasty) dining amenities, and so forth. You can't appreciate the value of such things unless you've attended an institution where the facilities aren't up to par. The nice stuff isn't cheap, though.

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