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The high cost of higher education played a big part in high school senior Ronald Nelson’s decision to reject offers from every university in the Ivy League in favor of the University of Alabama (UA).
Nelson also said no to: “Offers from Stanford, Johns Hopkins, New York University, Vanderbilt, and Washington University in St. Louis.”
A Memphis, Tennessee native, Ronald, decided to pass on the prestige and allure of the big name schools in favor of UA for two essential reasons: He got a full scholarship from the University, and was accepted to their selective honors program.
The Ivy League colleges were only offering partial tuition based on the Nelson Family’s “demonstrated need”, which is assessed by considering a family’s income, assets, and size. With 50% of the tuition up to Ronald and his family to supply, the freshman would have to take out loans, and begin accumulating debt in order to afford to go to college.
“I talked to my parents, and they told me, ‘It won’t be easy, but we could make this happen.’ I wasn’t sure if I wanted them to spend that money now or wait until later, when I’ll be using it for a graduate degree,” he said.
Roland Sr. elaborated on his son’s wise decision, “I think it would have been possible, given some sacrifice. But 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.”
Nelson’s long range plans are to follow in the successful footsteps of his grandparents, which includes attending medical school to become a doctor.
However, medical school costs have skyrocketed since his grandparents were students. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average tuition for private medical colleges for the 2014-2015 academic year averaged $50,000, plus another several thousand for additional fees for books, housing, meals, etc.
These escalating costs don’t show any signs of slowing down. For example, Harvard University estimates a total cost of $87,175 for an incoming first-year student in 2015-2016 at its top-ranked medical school — $55,850 for tuition and $31,325 for fees, supplies, and living expenses.
Thousands of medical students turn to loans to cover these fees, racking up enormous debt by the time they graduate. On average, medical students at private colleges throughout the United States who borrowed money graduated with $190,053 in debt in 2014, according to the AAMC.
By taking the full scholarship at UA for his undergraduate degree, Nelson’s family is saving the funds now he will need later for medical school, and starting him off on the correct path.