Ronnie Nelson (left) turned down all eight Ivy League universities to attend the University of Alabama this fall. Nelson also declined offers from Stanford, Johns Hopkins, New York University, Vanderbilt, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Why? Alabama offered him a full-ride scholarship and accepted him into their Honors Program. The Ivy’s don’t offer merit scholarships, nor do several other prestigious universities, such as Stanford.
What about need-based aid? The Ivy’s offer to meet “100 percent of a student’s demonstrated financial need,” but they take a comprehensive look at a student’s family’s assets, including parents’ home equity, number of dependents, and number of dependents in college.
In his freshman year, Nelson would have had a generous aid package. But his older sister graduates college in 2016, which would have dramatically raised Nelson’s net tuition (cost of attendance – grants & scholarships). Nelson said, “[The schools] told me that I would probably end up paying quite a bit more over the next three years.”
Peter Jacobs, writing for Business Insider, explains Nelson’s rationale:
Nelson decided it wouldn’t be worth the financial strain to use this money on his undergraduate education. He plans on going to medical school after college, and knows he’ll be faced with more tuition costs.
“With people being in debt for years and years, it wasn’t a burden that Ronald wanted to take on and it wasn’t a burden that we wanted to deal with for a number of years after undergraduate,” Ronald Sr. said. “We can put that money away and spend it on his medical school, or any other graduate school.”
I think Ronald Jr. made the right move. The research shows that for most students like Nelson merely getting into the Ivy’s is evidence that he’ll do just as well wherever he attends. I discuss these sorts of decisions in my forthcoming book. (See also Frank Bruni’s fascinating new book.)
Photo courtesy of Ronald Nelson.