If you're in high school and the college search process is well underway, you've more than likely had the conversation with family about cost. Setting a budget for your postsecondary education is important, and you have a range of options with a variety of price tags. But one thing you can generally count on with a public, state school, such as South Dakota State University (SDState), is that you're getting a valuable academic experience that doesn't drain your wallet during and after school.
Here are a few of the reasons that a state university is the right choice for your budget.
When it comes to a range of degree programs and major options, you won't find a much more accessible option than a state college or university. SDState offers 180+ areas of study through its on-campus programs, as well as a variety of options through its online degree offerings. This roster of diverse academic options goes beyond even the on-campus experience—Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pierre residents, for example, can save on budget by taking dozens of SDState courses at the Community College for Sioux Falls. No moving expenses or commuting costs necessary.
Cost of Living
So let's talk room and board—when it comes to state colleges and universities, you're likely encountering a much larger campus with a variety of housing options. And to top it all off, it's predominantly less expensive than the accommodations at private institutions. The College Board estimates that average room and board for a private school, for example, is around $12,210 per school year—while the average room and board for an SDState student is nearly half that amount. (Not to mention that the community of Brookings, a growing city with an increasingly younger population, offers a uniquely low cost of living to go with its high quality of life—something that can't always be boasted by larger cities with high price tags.)
With a larger campus comes a larger student body. State and public colleges and universities will generally boast a greater number of students than private institutions—but this also lends itself to a vast alumni network. With greater alumni giving comes better-funded endowments—and that can pay off in dividends for students looking for scholarships and financial aid from their universities. This goes beyond your out-of-pocket costs, too—a bigger alumni base can also mean better on-campus dining options, housing and entertainment, where the cost to the student participant is minimal or altogether free.
How about your budget after you graduate? The beauty of a state school that offers a more manageable tuition price and lower up-front costs (in addition to scholarship and aid opportunities), is that it allows you to accrue less debt during your time at college. In fact, studies have shown that students who graduate with less debt are more likely to make bigger life moves sooner—such as purchasing a vehicle, buying a home or starting a family. Apartment List found that college graduates who leave school with a manageable amount of (or no) debt become homeowners almost twice as fast as those with considerable debt.