College choice dilemma

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GentleBreeze
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College choice dilemma

Post by GentleBreeze » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:42 pm

Looking for some good advice from the great minds here.

My son got admission to Princeton and Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt gave him merit scholarship, which covers the full tuition for all the four years. But Princeton is not giving any scholarship at all. With more than $76,000 cost of attendance for Princeton per year, it is going to be a big drain on my available resources, which I am counting on for my retirement. But my son is very much interested to go there.

So, my dilemma is, will it be worth to go to Princeton with that huge price tag when Vanderbilt is giving such a nice scholarship?

Update:
Sorry for not providing the details about the major. My son is interested in Engineering (Electrical Engineering) with minor in Management.
Last edited by GentleBreeze on Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Monsterflockster
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by Monsterflockster » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:46 pm

GentleBreeze wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:42 pm
Looking for some good advice from the great minds here.

My son got admission to Princeton and Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt gave him merit scholarship, which covers the full tuition for all the four years. But Princeton is not giving any scholarship at all. With more than $76,000 cost of attendance for Princeton per year, it is going to be a big drain on my available resources, which I am counting on for my retirement. But my son is very much interested to go there.

So, my dilemma is, will it be worth to go to Princeton with that huge price tag when Vanderbilt is giving such a nice scholarship?
I had a student with a similar scenario a number of years ago. She did not regret it and went on to a top university for grad school. The amount of money saved rivaled the value of some people’s homes.

I don’t know the particulars but I would take the free ride.

bampf
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by bampf » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:48 pm

Take $304K and invest it today. What is it worth in 20 years?
Free vs the value of that $304K.
Could it work out well for your son to go to Princeton? Sure.
My degree cost way way less than that and I did ok.

You didn't talk about the degree, or the relative value of a a Princeton Foo degree vs a Vanderbilt Foo degree. If it is history, you don't have a discussion. If it is physics/math, maybe you have a discussion. That being said, $300K is a lot of beans. I know what I would do.

Vanderbilt every day of the week and twice on Sundays. If your son wants to spend $300K on Princeton, he should do that. I wouldn't help at all there. It would be 100% up to him at that point.

123
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by 123 » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:49 pm

Does your son want to go to Princeton enough that he will pay for it himself (student loans)? If it's not worth it to him to pay for it it likely isn't important enough for you to pay for it. (If you feel guilty you could pay off his loans when he graduates from Princeton).
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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Socrates
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by Socrates » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:51 pm

first of all, congrats........I'd go Vanderbilt. It is an outstanding school and will save you over $300,000. Vanderbilt is a very highly ranked institution. Not sure what your son's major is, that would be essential in answering the question

I am a big believer in that you make your mark in grad school...so for example, the med school, MBA or law school would be more important than undergrad and excellent grades at Vanderbilt would be a great vehicle to a top ranked grad school.
“Don't waste your time looking back. You're not going that way.” ― Ragnar Lothbrok.

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dodecahedron
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by dodecahedron » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:59 pm

About 15 years ago, there was an epic discussion thread on the College Confidential website from a student facing a similar dilemma. He had been admitted to Vanderbilt with a full ride and to his dream school (in his case, Yale) with no financial assistance. The thread went on for months (I gather he had gotten in Early Action to Yale and Vanderbilt notified him of his full ride in late winter.)

Ultimately, he decided to go to Vanderbilt. He checked back in to the College Confidential forum a few times afterwards with no regrets at all. His forum name was ¨Evil Robot.¨ You could search their archives.

Edited to add: I found this followup thread.

student
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by student » Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:03 pm

I would say go to Vanderbilt. It is a good school. Can't beat a full ride.

Regattamom
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by Regattamom » Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:17 pm

Vanderbilt.

But to previous posters, the OP said son got full tuition to Vanderbilt, not full ride. Room and board and other expenses would still need to be paid at Vanderbilt if it’s truly only full tuition.

oldfort
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by oldfort » Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:19 pm

There's not enough information here. We don't know your income, age, or net worth. If you aren't on track to have enough for retirement, then there's no decision to be made. If you could afford to send him to Princeton, then Princeton will likely have some prestige advantages when it comes to graduate school and employment. However, the extent of that advantage is unknowable and un-quantifiable. The majority of college students will switch majors at least once, so don't be exclusively focused on which has the best EE department.

oldfort
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by oldfort » Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:25 pm

bampf wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:48 pm
If your son wants to spend $300K on Princeton, he should do that. I wouldn't help at all there. It would be 100% up to him at that point.
This isn't a realistic option. No one is going to provide a $300k unsecured loan to an 18-year-old without a cosigner.

gips
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by gips » Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:32 pm

imo, you’ve presented the information so as to manage the answer you want to hear.

- what is the actual price difference?
- how many years later would you have to retire to recoup the difference?

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Watty
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by Watty » Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:01 pm

GentleBreeze wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:42 pm
So, my dilemma is, will it be worth to go to Princeton with that huge price tag when Vanderbilt is giving such a nice scholarship?
.....
My son is interested in Engineering (Electrical Engineering) with minor in Management.
There is no telling what it will be like next fall but Princeton is only about 50 miles from New York City which is being hit hard with the Corona Virus right now. Nashville is a relatively small city surrounded by rural areas so there is a chance that it will be hit less hard and might have a better chance of actually having in person classes next fall. That alone would make Vanderbilt look like a better choice to me.

I would hate to pay all the extra money that Princeton would cost only to have your kid doing online classes in your basement. At least with Vanderbuilt if he has to take classes online next fall that would not cost you a lot.

With any sort of undergraduate tech degree once you have a few years of work experience, or after you go to graduate school, the importance of what college you went to is a lot less important than with some majors.

Vanderbilt also has an outstanding reputation so it is not like you would need to feel guilty for be sending him to an underfunded community college. :oops:

As others have said you need to look at all the other costs but with the full tuition scholarship Vanderbilt would be an easy choice.

With the money you save you could even pay for him to get a graduate degree.

Thegame14
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by Thegame14 » Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:21 pm

GentleBreeze wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:42 pm
Looking for some good advice from the great minds here.

My son got admission to Princeton and Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt gave him merit scholarship, which covers the full tuition for all the four years. But Princeton is not giving any scholarship at all. With more than $76,000 cost of attendance for Princeton per year, it is going to be a big drain on my available resources, which I am counting on for my retirement. But my son is very much interested to go there.

So, my dilemma is, will it be worth to go to Princeton with that huge price tag when Vanderbilt is giving such a nice scholarship?

Update:
Sorry for not providing the details about the major. My son is interested in Engineering (Electrical Engineering) with minor in Management.
How does this drain your retirement? He can work and take student loans.....

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:31 pm

Send him to Princeton. It will change his life in ways he can’t imagine.

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F150HD
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by F150HD » Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:32 pm

$76k per year for 4 years, versus full ride scholarship.

Lest we forget today is April 1. I almost bought it.

potatopancake
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by potatopancake » Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:37 pm

Vanderbilt is an excellent choice and will serve well for engineering. Princeton will sound more impressive for friends and feed the ego.

Can you make this monetary difference real for your son by offering him a stipend every year or depositing money into his retirement account?

bampf
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by bampf » Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:41 pm

oldfort wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:25 pm
bampf wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:48 pm
If your son wants to spend $300K on Princeton, he should do that. I wouldn't help at all there. It would be 100% up to him at that point.
This isn't a realistic option. No one is going to provide a $300k unsecured loan to an 18-year-old without a cosigner.
It totally is. The option isn't borrow $300K or not, the option is throw away a full ride scholarship to an elite institution because someone else will pay for your tuition to a school you want to go to. If he wants it bad enough, he will find a way. If he doesn't, well, then you have your answer.

oldfort
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by oldfort » Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:52 pm

bampf wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:41 pm
oldfort wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:25 pm
bampf wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:48 pm
If your son wants to spend $300K on Princeton, he should do that. I wouldn't help at all there. It would be 100% up to him at that point.
This isn't a realistic option. No one is going to provide a $300k unsecured loan to an 18-year-old without a cosigner.
It totally is. The option isn't borrow $300K or not, the option is throw away a full ride scholarship to an elite institution because someone else will pay for your tuition to a school you want to go to. If he wants it bad enough, he will find a way. If he doesn't, well, then you have your answer.
Then, the OP's kid better start buying scratch offs. He has much better odds of winning the lottery than finding a bank willing to give him a $300k unsecured loan without a cosigner.

RedClay
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by RedClay » Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:05 am

Socrates wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:51 pm
I am a big believer in that you make your mark in grad school...so for example, the med school, MBA or law school would be more important than undergrad and excellent grades at Vanderbilt would be a great vehicle to a top ranked grad school.
+1. I faced a similar decision for undergrad. I chose a full ride at a less prestigious state school versus $50k per year at a more prestigious school. My parents saved enough money in a 529 that I was able to afford paying sticker price at a much more prestigious graduate school. In my current profession, the caliber of your graduate school is much more important than undergrad. I tend to believe that your highest degree matters the most. Also, Vanderbilt is an excellent school, so I would take the money.

bltn
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by bltn » Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:18 am

bampf wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:41 pm
oldfort wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:25 pm
bampf wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:48 pm
If your son wants to spend $300K on Princeton, he should do that. I wouldn't help at all there. It would be 100% up to him at that point.
This isn't a realistic option. No one is going to provide a $300k unsecured loan to an 18-year-old without a cosigner.
It totally is. The option isn't borrow $300K or not, the option is throw away a full ride scholarship to an elite institution because someone else will pay for your tuition to a school you want to go to. If he wants it bad enough, he will find a way. If he doesn't, well, then you have your answer.
A full scholarship to Vanderbilt is not a common thing. Your son must be an exceptional student. Congratulations on that recognition by an elite school. Quite an opportunity.

I think success in either of those schools will provide similar opportunities for a job or graduate school.

I have one child that went to an Ivy League school, and one that went to Vanderbilt. At the level of those schools, success is more about the student than their school. My kids are in comparable highly regarded graduate programs today. Unfortunately, no scholarship money was involved !!!

I would take the Vanderbilt scholarship or have my son pay for his own degree. You might sweeten the situation by giving your son a car when he is allowed to have one.

bltn
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by bltn » Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:21 am

oldfort wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:52 pm
bampf wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:41 pm
oldfort wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:25 pm
bampf wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:48 pm
If your son wants to spend $300K on Princeton, he should do that. I wouldn't help at all there. It would be 100% up to him at that point.
This isn't a realistic option. No one is going to provide a $300k unsecured loan to an 18-year-old without a cosigner.
It totally is. The option isn't borrow $300K or not, the option is throw away a full ride scholarship to an elite institution because someone else will pay for your tuition to a school you want to go to. If he wants it bad enough, he will find a way. If he doesn't, well, then you have your answer.
Then, the OP's kid better start buying scratch offs. He has much better odds of winning the lottery than finding a bank willing to give him a $300k unsecured loan without a cosigner.
I wasn t aware that a student loan couldn t be obtained without a parent cosigning.
Last edited by bltn on Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

bltn
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by bltn » Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:25 am

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:31 pm
Send him to Princeton. It will change his life in ways he can’t imagine.
With these two schools I wonder if the networking difference is worth 300,000 dollars.

bampf
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by bampf » Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:28 am

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:31 pm
Send him to Princeton. It will change his life in ways he can’t imagine.
Totally agree. His father will be out $300K. Absolutely should trade that kind of money for a brand.

Docc
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by Docc » Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:34 am

Princeton does not have a management major or minor. I would go with Vanderbilt if he is truly planning on a major in electrical engineering. Why waste that much money for the name recognition? This from a Princetonian.

fwellimort
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by fwellimort » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:13 am

-Deleted-
Last edited by fwellimort on Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

cableguy
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by cableguy » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:21 am

Princeton. No doubt. Your son is very smart. A Princeton degree is recognized throughout the world. He will always be gainfully employed and he will make far above the average person because of his Princeton degree. Vanderbilt is great, but you can't compare the two. Not even close. Pay for what you can, let him take out some loans. Your son will be more than alright with a Princeton degree.

fwellimort
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by fwellimort » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:28 am

As a Computer Science major and math major from Columbia Univ in NY, I like numbers.

Let me tell you the numbers:
Vanderbilt EE 2019: https://engineering.vanderbilt.edu/docs ... lights.pdf
Engineering at Vanderbilt had mean salary of $80,045

Princeton Architecture and Engineering 2017: https://careerdevelopment.princeton.edu ... 016-17.pdf
Architecture and Engineering had mean salary of $75,439 (data is behind Vanderbilt by 2 years and Computational/Mathematical is separated out. Regardless, you should notice the difference in the real world is near non-existant)

So pay wise as an electrical engineer, your child really won't see much difference (if at all).
I agree there is a difference in the intellectual body. However, for strict outcome for most electrical engineers, there's more or less no difference between a degree from Vanderbilt and a degree from Princeton.

Also, do notice the ones who actually have Ivy League degrees here (a Princetonian above and Columbia grad like me) are endorsing Vanderbilt. It's the ones without the Ivy League degrees who are pushing for the Princeton degree.
If your child is aiming for hedge funds though, then Princeton anyday. No contest. But if your child isn't interested in hedge funds, Vanderbilt degree at the price is 'worth more' financially.

Of course if you are 'well off', then it's a no brainer. Princeton is the best degree in undergrad in the US if not the entire planet earth. People around the world are willing to do anything to get into a handful of schools in the US (Princeton being one of them). You even see people donating hundreds of millions in hopes of their children having the privilege to study in any of those places. It's an unrivaled school for undergrad if costs are not a concern and an experience no amount of money can ever give -cause college only happens once in life and only lasts 4 years-.
However, since money is a reality, Vanderbilt anydays.
After all, what companies can you apply to Princeton with an engineering degree that you can't with a Vanderbilt engineering degree. I would strongly recommend OP to think about it. The top electrical engineering companies are Apple, Google, Boeing, IBM, GE, BMW, Tesla. All of them hire everywhere as none of them are anywhere close to as selective as either Princeton or Vanderbilt (Boeing/IBM/GE literally takes anyone). The market currently does not have a 'special company' for electrical engineers at Princeton. Having an electrical engineering degree at Vanderbilt will put your child at the top of the pile for any electrical engineering company in the US.
Now... if your child wants to do pure mathematics or computer science or physics and your child is confident he can be a top student at the school, Princeton anyday. But for electrical engineering, financially, no.
Last edited by fwellimort on Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:19 am, edited 8 times in total.

Bfwolf
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:43 am

This is a no-brainer. Vanderbilt. Even if the Vandy ride is only for tuition and not for all other costs, it's still a difference of $200K, which is an enormous sum of money. Evidence suggests your kid's financial life outcome will be as good with Vandy as with Princeton.

In order to soften the blow of disappointment for your son, I would tell him that you're going to give him $100,000 upon graduation from Vandy, and show him how $100,000 can grow over his investing lifetime. This will have a number of positive effects:

1) It keeps your retirement on track. I'm sure you were prepared to spend $100K on college given good in-state schools typically cost that much.

2) It rewards your son for his hard work, recognizing his achievement in getting into excellent schools and earning an incredible scholarship to one of them.

3) It will give your son a better attitude about going to Vandy, not going in with a sourpuss because he got into Princeton and his parents wouldn't let him go.

4) It will set your son up financially. He can use that money to go to grad school or to just invest for retirement.

5) It gives you the opportunity to get him thinking about managing money in a Boglehead manner, by demonstrating what $100K can grow to over a lifetime.

I think many parents for some reason shy away from the idea of just giving their kids money, while they have no problem paying 2 or 3 times that for their kids' education, as if there's a difference. Just give him the money. Yes, you'll eat into your lifetime gift tax exclusion--so what? It's clear you are not going to have an 11 million dollar estate.

The simple fact is that 18 year olds generally don't have the life experience necessary to properly do the cost-benefit analysis of paying more money to attend a school they prefer. This is especially true when it's not their money. My mom was going to let me attend an out-of-state public school that was twice as expensive as my equally outstanding in-state school. At the last minute, I came to my senses and stayed in-state. I still give her grief that she was letting me make the decision. I was 18 and in no way prepared to make that decision intelligently.

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dodecahedron
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by dodecahedron » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:58 am

GentleBreeze wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:42 pm
But my son is very much interested to go there.
What exactly does he give as his reasons for being so ¨very much interested¨ to go to Princeton?
GentleBreeze wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:42 pm
So, my dilemma is, will it be worth to go to Princeton with that huge price tag when Vanderbilt is giving such a nice scholarship?

Update:
Sorry for not providing the details about the major. My son is interested in Engineering (Electrical Engineering) with minor in Management.
Princeton is a world class university in a number of fields (e.g., theoretical math, theoretical physics, many humanities), but neither engineering nor management are particularly noteworthy strengths for Princeton.

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LiveSimple
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:08 am

Go to Princeton. He will do better in engineering by going there.
Also account that he will get summer internship starting, second year and will make more than $40,000,which will reduce your payments.

Then the connections he will get with the alumni's will be great. I hear they can connect over coffee, which will lead him to positions unimaginable.

I know the tuition saved can buy a home or partial home, but still the education from a reputed school with large alumnus is worth it.

softmax
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by softmax » Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:10 am

Princetonian here.

Let’s don’t talk about money here because it sounds like you can still afford Princeton.

Reasons to choose Princeton
1) Good students receive the BEST resources.
2) Princeton actually funds many students and there’s a chance that your son could get some scholarship.
3) It’s NOT just a degree that gets you a job.
4) If he wants to go to grad school after college, then Princeton is certainly a lot more advantageous. Connections play an important role in this case.

Reasons to not choose Princeton
1) Too much pressure. Peers are too smart, sometimes far beyond what I imagined.
2) Engineering isn’t top. (Why EE instead of CS? Think twice. More than 50% of EE people I know switched to CS)

fwellimort
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by fwellimort » Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:18 am

LiveSimple wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:08 am
Go to Princeton. He will do better in engineering by going there.
Also account that he will get summer internship starting, second year and will make more than $40,000,which will reduce your payments.

Then the connections he will get with the alumni's will be great. I hear they can connect over coffee, which will lead him to positions unimaginable.

I know the tuition saved can buy a home or partial home, but still the education from a reputed school with large alumnus is worth it.
That kind of internship pay is ridiculous and only really possible in Computer Science currently.
Electrical Engineering != Computer Science.
(unless your child has thoughts of working in the electrical side of computers -electrical computer engineering/computer science-ish-)

If your child ever has even 'a small' thought of Wall Street (the elite hedge funds or HFT) or is even considering for 'a bit' in software, then I too will agree with Princeton.
But for Electrical Engineering, that's not the case. Not every field is the same. Elementary school teachers for instance regardless of the school get paid similarly. Electrical Engineering like many other fields just doesn't give much of an advantage with the school name out of college.

Ask your son where he wants to work at (or type of work he wants to work at).
Like I said, the electrical engineering companies are: Apple, Google, Boeing, IBM, GE, Tesla
+ Tesla has miserable working conditions so that's out
+ Boeing/IBM/GM hires anyone
+ Apple and Google are all possible with either Vanderbilt or Princeton degree
Is he aiming for Hudson River Trading, Citadel, Janes Street, Two Sigma, DE Shaw, etc? Then go to Princeton. There are also hedge funds that don't even consider you if you aren't from Harvard/MIT/Princeton/Columbia out of college. I know cause my friends who got interviews there even admitted "Columbia" was the lowest bar that was 'passable' for getting an interview (and that everyone was from Harvard/Princeton/MIT).

Is he aiming to change careers a lot and move around a lot in his lifetime (including working abroad for significant period of time). Then no contest. Princeton Univ by those that matter is considered the best undergrad degree in the planet.

Otherwise, for the vast majority of EE engineers at Princeton, the outcome will be vastly similar to EE engineers at Vanderbilt.
I'm assuming the difference is about $200k in 4 years (cause Vanderbilt is only covering tuition). Don't scoff at $200k. It's a lot of money. If I got $200k from my parents as a gift out of college, I would be overjoyed. Financial freedom is big. And real.
Of course, situations 'could' change if your child changes majors (understand though Vanderbilt is an elite institution end of day. There are over 5,300 universities in the US. Vanderbilt is a top 20). That is also another thing to consider.

P.S.: Try negotiating with Princeton. Tell the financial aid office the situation. And be polite and nice. You never know.
Also, almost everyone in Electrical Engineering (and Computer Engineering) nowadays ends up switching to software. That's just where the jobs are. Electrical engineering is a dying career in the US (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-an ... ineers.htm)
Even BLS admits
"is expected to be tempered by slow growth or decline in most manufacturing industries and in telecommunications."
Keep that in mind. And also do keep in mind that the average person switches his career 5~7 times over his working life (and probably more in your son's generation). A Princeton degree regardless of the 'degree' does open doors for interviews anywhere. There's a good reason (which I don't agree) why many are still supporting the Princeton degree. Both are great choices. Just be realistic if finances are an issue.
Personally, Princeton is my dream school (and yes, I'm out of college and shouldn't be 'dreaming'). Most of my peers from Columbia will even grudgingly admit that the average student in Princeton is a 'tier above' academically compared to the average student in Columbia. But don't cripple your retirement for the degree.
Luxuries != Necessities.
Education and financial success is not directly correlated: otherwise, all the rich people should be those with phd. In terms of pure financial terms, Vanderbilt is just a better deal and that will remain the case unless your child really wants to get into High Frequency Trading and all at one point of his life (it will be very difficult to grab those jobs out of college even with Princeton degree but quite do-able throughout his working career).
As for me, if I were given the choice, Vanderbilt anyday. Money talks. $200k post tax invested means vacationing and eating out at 3 star michellin with my family for life. That kind of freedom can't be bought with the Princeton degree. Just think about it. $7k a year vacation money for your child for the rest of his working days. This is huge. Your child can make so much positive memories/experiences with that kind of financial freedom. None of my friends (including me) from Stanford/Princeton/Columbia have time to vacation. $200k in the meantime will give so much freedom if invested/spent wisely. After all, why earn money. To enjoy life right? $200k buys your child unlimited vacations. And with Vanderbilt degree and $200k invested early, your child could be financially independent before 30. Something the Princeton degree won't do.
Last edited by fwellimort on Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:06 am, edited 21 times in total.

softmax
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by softmax » Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:20 am

Bfwolf wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:43 am
This is a no-brainer. Vanderbilt. Even if the Vandy ride is only for tuition and not for all other costs, it's still a difference of $200K, which is an enormous sum of money. Evidence suggests your kid's financial life outcome will be as good with Vandy as with Princeton.

In order to soften the blow of disappointment for your son, I would tell him that you're going to give him $100,000 upon graduation from Vandy, and show him how $100,000 can grow over his investing lifetime. This will have a number of positive effects:

1) It keeps your retirement on track. I'm sure you were prepared to spend $100K on college given good in-state schools typically cost that much.

2) It rewards your son for his hard work, recognizing his achievement in getting into excellent schools and earning an incredible scholarship to one of them.

3) It will give your son a better attitude about going to Vandy, not going in with a sourpuss because he got into Princeton and his parents wouldn't let him go.

4) It will set your son up financially. He can use that money to go to grad school or to just invest for retirement.

5) It gives you the opportunity to get him thinking about managing money in a Boglehead manner, by demonstrating what $100K can grow to over a lifetime.

I think many parents for some reason shy away from the idea of just giving their kids money, while they have no problem paying 2 or 3 times that for their kids' education, as if there's a difference. Just give him the money. Yes, you'll eat into your lifetime gift tax exclusion--so what? It's clear you are not going to have an 11 million dollar estate.

The simple fact is that 18 year olds generally don't have the life experience necessary to properly do the cost-benefit analysis of paying more money to attend a school they prefer. This is especially true when it's not their money. My mom was going to let me attend an out-of-state public school that was twice as expensive as my equally outstanding in-state school. At the last minute, I came to my senses and stayed in-state. I still give her grief that she was letting me make the decision. I was 18 and in no way prepared to make that decision intelligently.
The parents might be interested in cost-benefit analysis (that’s why OP is asking in this forum). But apparently OP’s son is an exceptional young man who probably don’t care about money (or won’t have to worry about money at all).

I think the right thing might be frankly telling the kids how much you are willing to pay for their education and let them choose.

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LiveSimple
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:22 am

fwellimort wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:18 am
That kind of internship pay is ridiculous and only really possible in Computer Science currently.
Electrical Engineering != Computer Science.
(unless your child has thoughts of working in the electrical side of computers -electrical computer engineering/computer science-ish-)

If your child ever has even 'a small' thought of Wall Street (the elite hedge funds or HFT) or is even considering for 'a bit' in software, then I too will agree with Princeton.
But for Electrical Engineering, that's not the case. Not every field is the same. Elementary school teachers for instance regardless of the school get paid similarly. Electrical Engineering like many other fields just doesn't give much of an advantage with the school name out of college.
fwellimort great thoughts, I agree. As I write, I have personal experience with the kids entering the workforce this year !!! and watched them graduate last few years... as we speak, a kid I know, well educated mathematically inclined, computer science and statistics graduate from Stanford, will join hedge fund industry.... so let us trust these kids will find new ways in the new industries...

However let us also acknowledge, that the students going into electric engineering will not study what we studied in 1970 - 1980.
They will study core subjects and will research in the emerging or new science that will become emerging technology.
Just with my limited oversight, I see these students will make an impact on IOT, Robotics, Drones, Electronic Control Units in Autonomous vehicles and so on...

My humble view is let us not see the kids with our lens what we know, let us trust that the kids will do well than us... and that is what we want as well...

As a parent the OP, should know where his son will emerge and decide with that knowledge...
Last edited by LiveSimple on Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:32 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by livesoft » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:27 am

I didn't read all the other responses, but a high school student that I mentored attended Princeton, graduated a few years ago, and has to be supported by their parents because their job does not pay well in a high cost of living area.

If money for the parents was no problem,then I would say go to Princeton. But otherwise Vanderbilt is an outstanding school that I know both graduates of and professors at.

I would probably also use the leverage of going to Vanderbilt to try to get more money out of Princeton. But don't be surprised if nothing comes of it. After all, Princeton knows that not all of its graduates go on to to great things.
Last edited by livesoft on Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by sd323232 » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:28 am

GentleBreeze wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:42 pm
Looking for some good advice from the great minds here.

My son got admission to Princeton and Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt gave him merit scholarship, which covers the full tuition for all the four years. But Princeton is not giving any scholarship at all. With more than $76,000 cost of attendance for Princeton per year, it is going to be a big drain on my available resources, which I am counting on for my retirement. But my son is very much interested to go there.

So, my dilemma is, will it be worth to go to Princeton with that huge price tag when Vanderbilt is giving such a nice scholarship?

Update:
Sorry for not providing the details about the major. My son is interested in Engineering (Electrical Engineering) with minor in Management.
I'm an electrical engineer and going to Princeton is really not gonna matter. I agree with others, if you invest the money instead, your son will be better off. What i found out in engineering, noone cares what school you went to after 5 years (or after your first job), we only care about experience. Lets say your son will get job with Exxon Mobil, or Chevron, or other big name company, that is gonna matter much more than school he went to.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by livesoft » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:31 am

sd323232 wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:28 am
I'm an electrical engineer and going to Princeton is really not gonna matter. I agree with others, if you invest the money instead, your son will be better off. What i found out in engineering, noone cares what school you went to after 5 years (or after your first job), we only care about experience. Lets say your son will get job with Exxon Mobil, or Chevron, or other big name company, that is gonna matter much more than school he went to.
But if your son wants to start his own company making ventilators and virus diagnostic devices that will become more common than Alexa, then going to Princeton will give him the contacts to get that business up and running that Vanderbilt will never give him.
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by Keenobserver » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:31 am

I would go with the free ride and consider Ivy league for Grad school if he is interested. Not sure how heavily a school weighs in an electrical engineering degree. Surely, if it were law, I would have advised to go to Princeton. Free ride, and focus on internships is my call. Best of wishes.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by student » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:35 am

Regattamom wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:17 pm
Vanderbilt.

But to previous posters, the OP said son got full tuition to Vanderbilt, not full ride. Room and board and other expenses would still need to be paid at Vanderbilt if it’s truly only full tuition.
You are correct. Mistake on my part.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by johnubc » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:37 am

Easiest decision of the day. Encourage your son to enjoy his experience at Vanderbilt.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by deltaneutral83 » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:48 am

The scholarship probably covers room/board/meals/laptops/summer travel/study abroad, etc etc. The networking and other intangibles will also be big, they're investing big money into your son, they want to see it bloom. I'm guessing going to Princeton for four years and paying out of pocket for every imaginable expense would be close to $500-600k for everything. He'll probably get a scholarship for grad school too.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by sd323232 » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:52 am

livesoft wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:31 am
sd323232 wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:28 am
I'm an electrical engineer and going to Princeton is really not gonna matter. I agree with others, if you invest the money instead, your son will be better off. What i found out in engineering, noone cares what school you went to after 5 years (or after your first job), we only care about experience. Lets say your son will get job with Exxon Mobil, or Chevron, or other big name company, that is gonna matter much more than school he went to.
But if your son wants to start his own company making ventilators and virus diagnostic devices that will become more common than Alexa, then going to Princeton will give him the contacts to get that business up and running that Vanderbilt will never give him.
Not really, if the kid is that talented, he wont need Princeton network, it may help, but wont be a requirement. In this day and age, people can network using social media. If the kid is that talented, nothing will stop him, does not matter which school he goes to.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:56 am

One request to the OP, please come back and let us know what your final family decision was, which school your son is going.
Again in four years, let us know how all these turned out, so we all can be part of your son's / family achievements....
Last edited by LiveSimple on Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by livesoft » Thu Apr 02, 2020 7:58 am

Not really, if the kid is that talented, he wont need Princeton network, it may help, but wont be a requirement. In this day and age, people can network using social media. If the kid is that talented, nothing will stop him, does not matter which school he goes to.
^Let's make a "Trading Places" $1 bet on that. :) (It's a bet I hope to lose!)
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by vineviz » Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:35 am

GentleBreeze wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:42 pm
So, my dilemma is, will it be worth to go to Princeton with that huge price tag when Vanderbilt is giving such a nice scholarship?
That's not a dilemma at all: Princeton is not "worth it" in economic terms with that cost differential. The ROI for Vanderbilt is much higher than the ROI for Princeton.

But you DO have a dilemma: how do you balance your own comfort with the happiness of your son? What is your relationship with him worth to you?

I am in no way advocating for Princeton, by the way, just pointing out that the emotional cost of this decision can easily be underestimated. I hope this doesn't happen but if you make your son attend his 2nd choice school and he ends up deeply resenting you for it, this wouldn't be the first time in history that happened.

Personally, if the cost of Princeton was going to genuinely jeopardize my retirement I wouldn't even consider making that tradeoff. On the other hand, if I was pretty certain I wouldn't die broke then I'd probably put the option on the table.
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:36 am

I have worked with engineers from Vanderbilt, MIT, Virginia Tech, WPI, Stanford, Cornell, Notre Dame, Northeastern, Cal Tech, Duke and if you took the beaver ring off the MIT people, I'd have a tough time figuring out where each one went to college.

I've had one dean in my undergrad from Princeton who was indeed exceptional, and actually had Albert Einstein as a professor. But a student of that caliber will excel even at Baypath Junior College.

Have a good trip to Nashville on move in day.
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Apr 02, 2020 9:05 am

bltn wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:25 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:31 pm
Send him to Princeton. It will change his life in ways he can’t imagine.
With these two schools I wonder if the networking difference is worth 300,000 dollars.
A - it’s not just a networking difference
B - in our case not Princeton, but Yale, and the difference was earned so quickly it made my head spin.

Additionally, the amount earned during college (internships, TA, etc.) were on the order of $30k+ per year. So, in our case, the price difference between Yale (full pay) and Vanderbilt was more like $160k.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by ScubaHogg » Thu Apr 02, 2020 9:11 am

GentleBreeze wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:42 pm
Looking for some good advice from the great minds here.

My son got admission to Princeton and Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt gave him merit scholarship, which covers the full tuition for all the four years. But Princeton is not giving any scholarship at all. With more than $76,000 cost of attendance for Princeton per year, it is going to be a big drain on my available resources, which I am counting on for my retirement. But my son is very much interested to go there.

So, my dilemma is, will it be worth to go to Princeton with that huge price tag when Vanderbilt is giving such a nice scholarship?

Update:
Sorry for not providing the details about the major. My son is interested in Engineering (Electrical Engineering) with minor in Management.
I’m biased as a Vandy grad. First off, I would say I loved going to school there and I loved Nashville. I wouldn’t go back and change it for anything. Second, this is a great choice your son has. The full ride scholarship is still to a Top 20 university!

I’ve maintained for awhile that the “ranking” of your undergrad school is vastly overrated. Unless your son specifically wants to work at a Top 3 consulting firm or high end NY banking (both of which he could do from Vandy but it would probably be easier from Princeton), I’d choose Vandy 10/10 times.

As an aside, Vandy used to have a 5-year undergrad program where you graduate with your MBA as well. Your son might be interested in that if it’s still available.
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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by MathWizard » Thu Apr 02, 2020 9:14 am

The worst professor I had in Physics had his PhD from Princeton.

The top people in professions may have degrees from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, but
that is because top employers only need a few people, and they use these schools as a filter.
If you got admitted to these schools, and graduated with decent grades, you were competing
against the best, and did well. Now they just need to check if you are a decent fit for the
company culture. If you don't fit the company culture, you are competing with the masses
for jobs that are not top tier.

This seems like quite a gamble to spend $300K on.

With the internet, your son will have many more resources that I had, so the advantage from
professors is much less.

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Re: College choice dilemma

Post by livesoft » Thu Apr 02, 2020 9:18 am

MathWizard wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 9:14 am
The worst professor I had in Physics had his PhD from Princeton.
And the worst professor in science I had later became a Nobel Laureate. Let me see where they got their PhD: Princeton. Does that make a trend?
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