High costs are put to the test
The University of San Diego is often featured in media articles regarding its beautiful, pristine campus. However, this year USD received a nod in Money Magazine ranking USD as the 371st most affordable school. Considering the rarity that the words ‘USD’ and ‘affordable’ are used in the same sentence, it is important to understand what this conclusion really means.
Money Magazine based these rankings on several categories including the quality of education, price tag, and the outcomes for graduates. These categories examine the exact amount a student pays for his or her degree, whether or not the school awards grants and scholarships, how many it awards, how long it takes for students to graduate, and finally, the average earnings of a recent graduate.
Senior Abigail Beck stated that although it’s a large sum to pay, the price tag is worth it.
“What I really think I’m paying for are the small class sizes and the relationships I have with my professors,” Beck said. “I think that’s what will benefit me in the long run and help me after I graduate. I feel confident and comfortable communicating with adults because USD has prepared me in a way that I might not have benefitted from at a larger school.”
According to the University of San Diego website, the total annual cost to attend USD is approximately $62,000. This breaks down to $47,000 for tuition, $600 for fees, $2,000 for health insurance, $9,000 for campus housing, and $3,000 for a meal plan. The price tag for those receiving financial aid benefits varies from student to student but averages around $38,000.
The final factor mentions early-career earnings for recent graduates. Several schools mentioned on the list scored relatively low because their alumni suffer in the job market. According to the Money Magazine, the average early-career earnings for USD students sit right around $52,000.
Sophomore Ellie Meck shared some of the benefits of USD’s expensive tuition.
“I do think my time here is worth the amount because I think it’s worth having 15-30 people in each class and getting to know my professors,” Meck said. “It is better than just being a blip on the screen to the professors.”
However, Meck also believes USD could put spend a little more to upgrade on-campus housing.
“For the amount we are playing, they should renovate the dorm rooms, and apartments,” Meck said. “The furniture is old, the carpets are disgusting, the showers have zero water pressure, and we do not have air conditioning. I also think we are lacking scholarship opportunities for people of financial need.”
Factors such as class size, professor relationships, Career Services, and others were not included in the Money Magazine article. With this in mind, it may be important to consider the benefits of an expensive education from a liberal arts school that stretches beyond the financial rewards.
Senior Andrew Stieb argued that students are not necessarily paying for their education or potential career benefits that come with a USD degree, rather they are paying for the experience.
“There’s a certain type of person that really thrives here and for him or her I’d say it [the cost] is probably worth it,” said Stieb. “If you’re here for a fun experience, solid education, and friends, I’d say you’re in the right place, but if you’re looking for a place to really create then you might have better luck at a big-city school. The kids that do well here are the ones that are basically just enjoying themselves.”
Neighboring schools such as San Diego State University (SDSU) and University of California San Diego (UCSD) scored noticeably higher on the list. UCSD was ranked number 89 and SDSU was listed at 135.
Senior Nicole Potter believes that her business degree is worth the cost, but is unsure if all majors across the board receive the same benefits.
“I feel really lucky with my major because they offer a lot of assistance to help us with our future that I would otherwise have to pay for, such as career fairs, resume reviews, and bringing in firms for introductions,” Potter said. “However, I am not sure what it is like for everyone else and whether they get the same kind of opportunities to network for after graduation.”
Although ranking number 371 on the most affordable colleges list is not a great achievement for USD, it does raise the question whether the strong community, relationships with professors, and positive experience are enough to outweigh the hefty price tag.