Before you give up on posh private schools like Villanova, Santa Clara University, Worcester Polytechnic, Seattle University or Stevens Institute of Technology, some of these schools (I won't say exactly who or how much) charge about the same or not much more than in-state residents with dorms, even if you make far above a working class income. (we're talking $15-25,000/ yr) You never know until you get an offer back. Some of the schools were more generous than what the federal "FAFSA" says they think you should pay. If you feel like sharing what YOUR kid got as an offer, go ahead and leave comments.
The very top schools like Harvard, Stanford, Princeton or MIT will give you a free ride if your parents pull in $60-$70,000 or less, which is what a top engineering graduate might expect to make with a stay-at-home mom after a few years. Or they will charge a percentage up to 10 percent up to $100,000. The trick is getting in when these schools have lottery odds with less than 10 percent of students admitted. But the second-strings schools mentioned above have 45-70 percent admit rates and offer basically similar programs and quality for a less valued nameplate, and it seems they offer a viable alternative for not much more or close to what a state university would cost if you plan to live on campus.
The financial aid flier from Oregon State University in Corvallis OR (we live near Seattle) is about the same deal as what we're paying for a great private university with financial aid,. I know some parents that make much more than us who aren't paying too much more than that for similar 2nd tier schools like Stevens Institute of Technology. Lesson - don't automatically assume the state university for a resident will always be much cheaper than a big sticker-price private university.
Estimated costs 2010-2011:
Oregon resident tuition: $7,218 (not so bad)
Other expenses $13,505 (room board and everything else)
total resident: $20,723
The University of Washington in Seattle is similar, $22,000 with dorm, $15,000 for commuter (but parents still need to pay for car, insurance, bus pass, food etc) $45,000 full price isn't much different that posh private schools (but Univerity of Washington is more famous than a bunch of posh private schools with higher test scores but without awesome football teams)
2010-2011 Student Budget Nine-Month Living Expenses
Lives with Parents Undergrad Traditional Undergrad Non-Traditional Undergrad
Books $1,035 $1,035 $1,035
Room/Board $3,189 $9,399 $13,578
Personal $2,265 $2,265 $2,265
Transportation $642 $642 $1,524
Resident Tuition $8,701 $8,701 $8,701
Resident Total Costs $15,832 $22,042 $27,103
Non-Resident Tuition $25,329 $25,329 $25,329
Non-Resident Total Costs $32,460 $38,670 $43,731
Non-Traditional: Undergraduates who have children; married undergraduates whose spouses are not also enrolled.