On The Money: Is Harvard Really Cheaper Than California Public Universities?

Sending your child to Harvard could actually be less expensive than sending your son or daughter to a California public university – at least that’s the word from the Bay Area News Group.

The article created plenty of buzz on the blogoshere, including the Huffington Post.

A family of four making $130,000 a year would pay only $17,000 a year to send their child to Harvard, with financial aid, a Harvard official confirmed Monday.

By contrast, that same family would pay $24,000 a year for a student to attend a California State University campus – and $33,000 to attend a UC school – according to the article.

Prices like that could prompt some California students to look for cheaper tuitions out of state.

Akaosua Grant, a student from Foothill Community College told CBS13 at the Capitol on Monday, “I think a lot of students that are eventually going to get ready to go to college – that are seniors this year or juniors, they’re going to be looking out of state because it’s cheaper to find private institutions on the East Coast that can give scholarships.”

Many California students are angry over the cost of education, but would they truly pay $7,000 a year more to go to a Cal State school? Well consider that many California State University students commute from home and half pay no tuition at all, thanks to scholarships and grants.

Only if students lived on campus and paid full room and board would they actually pay $24,000 in college costs. With tuition currently pegged at $5,400 and living off campus, most Cal State students would in fact pay far less than the $17,000 figure quoted for Harvard.

You can use a fees calculator to figure out what your costs might be to attend CSU.

And at the University of California, half the students also pay no tuition, thanks to financial aid. But for those who do pay their own way, it could cost up to $33,000 a year in tuition, fees, room and board on many campuses, a university official said.

So does the headline that Harvard is cheaper than California public universities really pass the truth test? Well in reality, the statement is only partially true – and only for some students, especially when you consider that half the students at UC and CSU are getting a free tuition.

Harvard’s tuition is $36,300 according to Sally Donahue, the school’s director of financial aid. Adding room, board, student fees and travel expenses, the full cost of a Harvard education is $56,750 annually. Harvard is also the best endowed college in the country and very generous with financial aid, thanks to an endowment fund estimated at $32 billion.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Cowboy says:

    Just a thought …. but maybe if half teh students at UC and CSU weren’t going for free … it wouldn’t cost everyone else so much. The solution isn’t to give everyone a free ride … the solution is to make everyone pay something.

  2. Milan Moravec says:

    It is past time for University of California Regent Chairwoman Lansing to deal with the economic realities that the Board of Regents cannot escape. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau picks the pockets of Californian students and their parents clean. Public Cal. now more expensive than Harvard and Yale. (The author has 35 years’ consulting, has taught at Cal where he observed the culture & ways of senior management & was not fired)

    UC Berkeley Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) has forgotten he is a public servant, steward of the public money, not overseer of his own fiefdom. Tuition fee increases exceed national average rate of increase; On an all-in-cost Cal. ranked # 1 most expensive public university; Recruits (using California tax $) out of state & foreign affluent $50,600 tuition students who displace qualified instate applicants from Cal; Spends $7,000,000 + for OE consultants to do the work of his management team (prominent East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost); When procuring OE consultants failed to receive alternative proposals; Pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for several lectures; Tuition to Return on Investment drops below top 10; QS academic ranking falls below top 10.

    In tough economic times, unpleasant decisions must be made. UC Board of Regents Chair Lansing must oust Chancellor Birgeneau
    Email opinion to marsha.kelman@ucop.edu

  3. David Zuckerman says:

    This story would be infuriating if it were true. It’s not.

    The report relies on a a comparison based on incomplete facts selected to make a political statement.

    It compares tuition, room, board, and books at CSU to tuition at Harvard. This is a false comparison on several counts.

    1. A far higher proportion of CSU students live at home as most CSUs are commuter schools. Thus, no room and board should be in the comparison. It unfairly inflates the CSU cost.

    2. Book prices are undoubtedly more at Harvard than they are at the CSU because Harvard professors assign more books than CSU profs. (Don’t take my word for it. Check the bookstores. They are online.) Prices for textbooks are set by the publishers. If the report included textbooks, which Harvard aid doesn’t cover, the CSU would look better.

    3. The Harvard financial aid requires families to exhaust all of their assets first, including the parents’ 401k accounts, before any money is given. CSU financial aid doesn’t work that way.

    4. CSU base tuition is less than $8,000. Harvard’s is $53,000. Four years of CSU costs a little more than one semester at Harvard. No matter how much financial aid they tack on, families and students will be saddled with decades of debt for the Harvard diploma.

    5. A far, far higher proportion of CSU and UC students attend part-time than those do at Harvard. The ability to attend part-time allows students to attend at their own pace and in a time frame they can afford. This is not the normative Harvard model.

    6. Even though CSU and UC administrations are bloated and administrative salaries are too high, they are still far lower than Harvard administrative salaries.

    Again,if it were true, the story would be infuriating. Sadly, the report relies on false comparisons, half-truths, and faulty logic to make a political point.

  4. bill i did inhale clinton says:

    hey if they are writing story of how much,look at the wages they pay the people who stand around there,ohh i mean work there.people getting payed $5.000 to $8.000 a month…. the pay should be cut in half and the pay still would be great

  5. Thinkaboutit says:

    If a student were good enough to get into Harvard, then surely that student would also be granted loads of merit scholarships upon being admitted to CSU, right? So it seems likely to me that any student facing a decision between attending Harvard and a CSU campus would in fact not face such a difference in price tag.

    1. Milan Moravec says:

      challor Birgeneau gifts exgovernor $300,000 for a couple of lectures. . UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau picks the pockets of Californian students and their parents clean. Birgeneau’s tuition/fee increases rank Cal. as the # 1 most expensive (on all-in-cost) public university. Now UC Berkeley is more expensive than Harvard, Yale.

      UC Berkeley Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) has forgotten he is a public servant, steward of the public money, not overseer of his own fiefdom. Tuition fee increases exceed national average rate of increase; On an all-in-cost Cal. ranked # 1 most expensive public university; Recruits (using California tax $) out of state & foreign affluent $50,600 tuition students who displace qualified instate applicants from Cal; Spends $7,000,000 + for OE consultants to do the work of his management team (prominent East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost); When procuring OE consultants failed to receive alternative proposals; Pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for several lectures; Tuition to Return on Investment drops below top 10; QS academic ranking falls below top 10.

      In tough economic times, unpleasant decisions must be made. UC Board of Regents Chair Lansing must oust Chancellor Birgeneau
      Email opinion to marsha.kelman@ucop.edu
      (The author has 35 years’ consulting, has taught at Cal where he observed the culture & ways of senior management & was not fired)

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