The unexpected perks of attending a budget-friendly college



Posted on November 9th, 2023

When you ask most prospective students (and parents) which colleges they have their sights set on, Ivy League universities and big-name schools usually top the list. It's easy to equate prestige and hefty price tags with better quality education and long-term success, but that isn’t always the case. Picking a budget-friendly college might be the secret sauce to a better college experience and post-graduate success.

Shrink your Student Loan Debt

Okay, so this benefit isn’t exactly hidden. The skyrocketing cost of education over recent years has led to a student loan debt crisis. It also contributes to the 38% of students who admit to dropping out because of financial pressure.

Picking a lower-cost university, typically a public institution, offers an opportunity to significantly reduce or even avoid crippling student loan debt. Graduating with less debt can give you the freedom to pursue your career and life goals without having to make decisions based on the burden of high monthly loan payments.


Less Cutthroat Admissions

Prestigious universities are known for their competitive admissions processes. Getting into those elite colleges can feel like winning the Hunger Games. Budget-friendly colleges usually have more accessible admission criteria, so you can follow your passion without the stress of cutthroat competition. You’re also far less likely to lose your spot to a less talented legacy applicant.

Scholarships and Grants

Many lower-cost universities are dedicated to increasing access to education. They often offer generous scholarships and grants to attract talented students, making higher education more affordable for those who show academic potential, regardless of their financial background.

Pro tip: Many elite universities are also upping their game when it comes to financial assistance programs. Regardless of where you decide to go to college, make sure to ask about any available grants or scholarships you might qualify for.

Strong Academic Programs

Just because it's not an elite university (code word for expensive) doesn't mean your education will be subpar. Many budget-friendly colleges have top-notch academic programs and faculty members who are experts in their fields. It is possible to receive a high-quality education without the prestigious name.

Better Diversity

Budget-friendly colleges attract students from all walks of life, both in terms of socioeconomic and ethnic background. Exposure to people who have different perspectives and experiences from our own is gold for cultivating empathy, understanding, and strong interpersonal skills. It can also lead to better collaboration and problem solving in the workplace.

Freedom to Explore

Less-elite colleges often have more flexible academic requirements. That means you can try out different subjects without feeling locked into a specific major. It's like having a buffet of knowledge, which can ultimately lead to a more informed career choice.

Less Stress, More Chill

54% of college dropouts attribute their decision to difficulty balancing their workload. Skipping the pressure cooker of high-status schools can increase your chances of graduating. Budget-friendly colleges offer a more laid-back environment where you can focus on your studies without the crazy competition both in and outside the classroom.

It’s also less likely you’ll need to work two jobs to make ends meet; freeing up more time for studies and enjoying your college experience.

Career Opportunities

Getting a great job isn’t just about the fancy name on your diploma. While it’s true that graduating from an elite college could lead to a higher salary in certain fields - like business - for most fields, including STEM and engineering, it makes no difference at all.

Budget-friendly colleges also often have strong ties to local and regional industries, providing you with internship opportunities and a tight-knit network to help kickstart your career.

Many elite school grads would have been just as successful with a less prestigious education. At the end of the day, what you do with your education matters more than where you received it.

Post-grad Financial Stability

This is a biggie. Choosing a budget-friendly college can be a game-changer for your financial future. The money saved on tuition (and in interest on student loan payments) can be used to start building your future. This means you'll have less student debt, have more cash to invest, be able to buy a home, or even start your own business. Less financial stress means more freedom to shape your post-grad life.

While big-name schools have their perks, don't underestimate the awesomeness of budget-friendly colleges. They offer quality education, lower debt, a diverse college experience, and a chance to follow your own path without breaking the bank. Remember, it's not just the school on your diploma but how you apply your education and seize opportunities that counts. Here’s to a bright future, no matter where you choose to learn!

Scholar Raise (a.k.a. Raise Education) allows you to crowdfund your child’s 529 college savings plan. It’s free to use and you can be on your way to a brighter future in less than 5 minutes.


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