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Whether you pay in cash, borrow the money, work while attending, or whatever, the actual cost for a private college education is ridiculous.
It only makes sense for those smart enough to get academic scholarships or those talented in other ways (athletics, special talents) to get substantial merit aid or poor enough to get large financial aid. For those who have to pay the full shot you better be so wealthy that the cost is not significant.
If you have just enough that you get no aid but have to imperil your future financial security then it's best to go a less expensive route (community college, state colleges, etc). There are many fine state colleges and Universities.
Our DD just graduated from State U yesterday. Though we didn't qualify for any financial aid other than unsubsidized loans (which we declined), through a combination of earning 19 college credits during high school, school merit scholarships and a couple private ones along the way, plus some summer internship credits and a couple 4-credit courses, she managed to complete her Bachelor's in Public Relations (summa cum laude) in just 3 years. Total cost including room & board was around $50k. She also will begin her 3rd paid summer internship tomorrow (to finish her last 6 credits by August), and worked on-campus part-time the past two years in their Marketing & Comm. dept, along with being a tour guide and peer mentor and President of their PR Society. We helped her with spending money during freshman year, but she has worked since that first summer and saved her own spending money these past two years. She really bought into the "college is what you make of it, not just the name on the degree" attitude. We are hopeful for her future job prospects, despite the current job market.
She had the chops to get into a lot more prestigious private schools, but opted for the "no loan" approach at State U, where she actually liked the program better anyway. We've had family discussions for many years about private college costs vs. a state education. She evidently agreed.
DS has 3 more years at the same State U. Both will graduate debt-free.
I know there are some majors that may require prestigious private educations, but oftentimes there are just a ton of naive kids way overspending on their educations because they're still too young to really know what they're getting into financially - an issue the colleges and our government are keenly aware of and take advantage of.