While I was in New York last week, I spent some time with families of students interested in majoring in the performing arts.
The parents shared the same anxieties as the moms and dads of other college-bound teenagers. They wondered how they would pay for college. And the kids seemed preoccupied about how they could manage to sing or dance their way into their favorite schools.
Many of the students were keen on attending schools with performing arts programs in New York City or in other cities on the East Coast.
I can understand their desire. These kids were primarily from the East Coast and more than half of students attend school just 100 miles from their homes. What’s more, these arts kids are going to assume that they need to be close to Broadway and other cultural outlets to succeed in the performing arts.
Expensive East Coast Universities
The problem these students face is that many East Coast schools are extremely expensive and they don’t provide adequate levels of financial aid.
Pace University, for instance, costs more than $49,000 in tuition and room/board. On the surface, the price doesn’t mean much because price tags can’t be trusted. Most schools discount. Pace like many schools in East Coast cities, however, doesn’t cut the price nearly as much. Pace typically meets 78% of need and some of that is a loan. Not good. Students, who borrow, leave with debt in excess of $38,000, which is scary. That’s well above the average student debt of about $23,000.
NYU: An Easy Target
I always pick on New York University’s lousy financial aid so regular readers won’t be surprised at it’s figures. NYU, which costs about $57,000!! in tuition and room/board, typically meets 69% of a student’s average need met. That’s horrible. Apparently NYU is too embarrassed to share what the average indebtedness of its graduates is.
I have a family friend whose artistic daughter is just settling in as a freshman at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. That school, which costs about $50,000, is on the federal government’s list of the most expensive schools in the country when measured by net price. (The published price minus typical grants.) Pratt is No. 8 and NYU is No. 15. The parents, who are not wealthy, wouldn’t consider looking at less expensive schools because they were convinced that this school had the name for design majors and also offered the added advantage of being located in Manhattan.
The Most Generous Schools
The East Coast is schizophrenic when it comes to financial aid generosity. This region includes many of the most generous schools in the country, including the Ivy League schools and elite liberal arts colleges like Amherst, Swarthmore and Haverford, and some of the most miserly. Columbia, for instance, meet 100% of its students demonstrated financial need compared to NYU’s 69%.
I will be talking more about this topic tomorrow so stayed tuned.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of Shrinking the Cost of College workbook. She also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch and US News. Follow her on Twitter.