Capital Region college tuition

Nott Memorial

Union's Nott the most expensive.

After hearing recently that the cost of attending both Skidmore and Union had crossed the $50k mark, we were curious about how the local colleges stack up when it comes to cost.

So, we looked it up. The list and a few notes are after the jump.

Total cost of one undergrad year

  1. RPI - $52,160
  2. Skidmore - $51,196
  3. Union - $50,439
  4. Russell Sage College - $37,460
  5. Siena - $35,280
  6. St Rose - $31,778
  7. UAlbany - $15,858

We pulled the numbers from the schools' websites. When calculating the totals we used the cost of the most basic on-campus housing option. We didn't include first-year or transfer fees, nor did we figure in the cost of books or anything like that.

A few notes

+ UAlbany was obviously going to be the cheapest -- it's the only state school on the list. It's out-of-state tuition is closer to the others: $22,118.

+ Very few students pay the full price at a private school. For example, Union reports that the average financial aid package is worth $25,400. (Union also says the cost of educating a student is 28 percent higher than its comprehensive fee.)

+ Skidmore's financial aid process was recently highlighted in Time. Among the details: the average financial aid grant at the school is $28,000.

+ Union and Skidmore have been tagged as being among the most expensive schools in the nation in previous years.

photo: Flickr user saibotregeel


The financial aid at Saint Rose though makes it much cheaper than that - President Sullivan said that with grants and scholarships the cost of attending Saint Rose is about the same or slightly higher than SUNY.

It was interesting to note in this Gazette article on Sunday that both Skidmore and Union were down in applications but both St. Rose and Siena had increased.

I guess kind of a no-brainer, since the latter two are cheaper.

What about Siena?

Editors: Urp. It got lost in the copy/paste from the spreadsheet. Fixed now. Thanks.

RPI #1! Let's go red!

At least I'm saving money post-college by not giving anything in the annual alumni fund-raising appeal. That pretty much balances things out.

Welcome to the working world! Enjoy your $200,000 debt.

Is there a way to find the average salaries from graduates of each school? I would like to see how many years of work the RPI graduate has to do to before their higher salaries end up balancing out the extreme amount of debt they're left with after school.

My non scientific results of Paul's question:
I know one grad from RPI, making at least 100K 5 years out.
I know many SUNY grads, making in the 35-55 range 4-5 years out.
I know one Siena grad, he's making 40 5 years out.
And I know one St. Rose grad, she's making about 35, 3 years out.

Again I tell you all: It's not where you went to school or what you know, it's WHO you know. I've worked coast to coast and nothing has ever been so true.

Hmmm...Could always blow out the numbers and add Bennington. It isn't much further from downtown Albany than the Skidmore.

How do the grad schools stack up?

Look at college as an investment and look at your graduation rates (particularly in 4 years) and average earnings after college. As a St. Rose grad I can tell you many of my friends either didn't graduate or stayed 5-6 years and paid alot more than my friends who went to Siena and graduated in 4 years. St. Rose grads (unless they are teachers) struggle to find jobs too.

Might have to take issue with your police work there, at least regarding the "average financial aid package" bringing the price down -- these days, the colleges call loans "financial aid." Which is interesting, because hopefully their economics programs would never call a program that carries interest "aid." The number without loans would be much more informative. Not that I've got a 16-year-old or anything.

Sure, it ended 12 yrs ago, but my total undergrad cost at Albany was only like $18K. But that was back when a billion dollars seemed like a lot of money.

Let's face it, when you go to a place like Union or Skidmore you're paying for a nicer dorm, better food and rich friends.

@Paul. Here's a PDF of salaries from the class of 2008 at RPI courtesy the Career Development Center:

In a nutshell:
Average Starting Salary, BS $58,154 (up 3.64% from 2007)
Average Starting Salary, MS $71,886 (up 0.05% from 2007)

@CJ: You make a good point about student loans. But it appears the schools are at least trying to keep the loan amounts down. According to Union's website, about $20k of that $25,400 is scholarships or other sorts of non-loan aid. And here's the full quote from the Time article about Skidmore: "In addition to $7,000 worth of federal and state grants, work-study earnings and federal loans, the average financial-aid applicant will pocket $28,000 in Skidmore grants."

Thank you Ryan! That is really helpful. Without getting into too much detail... I graduated with a four-year degree which has an equivalent on that list, and my starting salary was $10k less than the average RPI lists. But my degree cost approximately $135k less. In my particular case, I think I did well. But my career is one of the lowest-paying listed on that PDF (and far below their school-wide average)... and my career is not an engineering-specific one that would really have benefited from an education like RPI's. I was just curious :D

Other things to consider:
Siena and UAlbany were listed on Business Week's Biggest Returns on Investments last fall:
Also according to this article
Siena students have the lowest average debt of the schools in the area.

There is currently a bit of an uproar on the RPI campus with many many student protesting what we call the financial mismanagement of the school - in addition to a ridiculous tuition, the school no longer waives room and board for dorm RAs and only offers them $5k in compensation for the year (I believe the cost of living on campus is between $10-15K). The school is also now requiring all sophomores to live on campus and has raised graduate tuition to the point where it no longer falls in line with national averages or within NSF funding limits. It's more than a little crazy.

For reference, graduating with the class of 2006 at RPI, most of my friends owed between $30-50k afterward, with some owing over $100k.

I graduated from RPI in '96 with $45k in loans which I paid off very quickly. I could have gone to UMass Amherst and gotten just as a good an education without the debt. The RPI name has opened a few doors for me though.

That being said RPI will never get another dime from me as long as they keep spending ridiculous sums of money on arts buildings (Empac) and athletics (East Athletic Village). The school has lost it's direction, or at least taken one that I don't think serves its students well. How can they lay off 130+ people when the President who is forcing these decisions on the board is making over $1.5 million a year and thinks a 5% pay cut is doing her part?

To the guy above who says he doesn't give to his school's annual fund: You should always give back to your school-- alumni support 1.) makes up the difference between tuition and the actual cost of an education at a particular school, 2.) increases a school's ratings (alumni participation counts for a lot), and 3.) was given to you by those who came before you (especially true if you received a scholarship or other form of outright aid). Even if you give 5 bucks, it makes a difference to your alma mater.

As far as tuitions that seem too high go... as long as people will pay, they'll continue to go up-- just like anything else (ticket prices, car prices, etc).

@ Jeff, I don't mean for you to take offense, but you should check your facts. We (the students) got blasted by administration on multiple occasions for not having our numbers right.

I'm not a fan of the direction RPI is heading, but there are definitely some good things happening as a result. Institute decisions are much more transparent than ever before ( for instance), students, having rallied around the unpopular decisions that were made, have found a new sense of unity, and ..... yeah ..... that's about it.

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