The U.S. Department of Education recently updated its list for affordability and transparency to help families make informed decisions. The list reported the national average for a public four-year university was $7,135 for tuition rates and fees in 2011-12.
The average cost for a private for-profit university came in at $15,112, while the average for a private-not-for profit college was $22,786.
In a Grand Haven Tribune survey of more than 400 seniors from area high schools, 89 reported they will take classes at Muskegon Community College, 50 will attend Michigan State University, and 46 will head to Grand Valley State University.
Cost is one reason Grand Haven High School graduate Rachel Boone is sticking close to home this fall.
Boone, 18, said she knew if she attended a large university and moved away from home, it would cost more than her plan to attend Baker College in Muskegon.
“My mom was happy I’m not going to be four hours away,” she said. “She realized I may need help through college, and that’s why I’m staying home.”
Boone said she looked at attending Muskegon Community College, but preferred Baker’s competitive nursing program to help her become a registered nurse. She plans to pay for college with scholarship and grant money.
David Bancuk said he wanted to go straight to a four-year university to get a “real college experience” but altered his plans after he considered the costs.
The 2013 Fruitport High School graduate weighed his options: he could attend Ferris State University for four years and spend thousands of dollars more, or he could take classes at Muskegon Community College for two years.
In the end, the 18-year-old felt it was best to take general education courses at the local college to save money.
“I don’t want to spend a bunch of money because prices keep going up,” he said.
Bancuk said he spoke to his mother about his decision, who agreed it would be better to save his money.
Bancuk plans to enroll in Ferris State University’s welding program once he takes two years of classes in Muskegon.
He said he is interested in welding because he feels proud of holding something he created, and the Big Rapids college has a good program.
“It was kind of a no-brainer,” he said.
Smaller class sizes are what attracted Grand Haven High School graduate Alex Horan to Alma College.
Horan, 17, said she looked at colleges similar in size, including Grand Valley State University. She noted that she didn’t want to be caught up in “being a number” on a large campus.
The Grand Haven graduate said Alma’s scholarships — and having friends on campus — helped her decide where she’s headed next month.
Horan said the private college will cost more than other schools, but she plans to pay for school with scholarships, money she’s saved and by working part-time.
“It will be worth the money I’m paying because it’s smaller,” she said.
Fruitport High School graduate Zach Rabach said he’s staying in the Muskegon area to attend Muskegon Community College because it would allow him to put money toward a larger university.
Once Rabach, 18, completes his general education requirements, he plans to transfer to the University of Michigan to study sports psychology.
Rabach said he looked into the Ann Arbor school along with Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University before making his final choice.
The Fruitport graduate said his employment at Wesco will keep him from dipping into his savings account for at least a year.
Rabach noted that the company pays up to $1,500 a semester for students who receive an A in class. He also received a scholarship through the Masonic Temple, and will pay a small amount out of his own pocket.
Rabach said it’s a relief he won’t have to dip into his savings account until his second year of college.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said.