Dr. Vega discussed the value of “name brand” education experiences, stating:
“Words matter in these discussions. The sticker price is the cost of attendance that institutions publish on their websites or brochures. As such the sticker price may or may not be what students actually pay. What students pay depends on what institutions offer to help reduce that sticker price. This includes grants, scholarships, or work-study. Institutions vary in how they allocate resources to help reduce that sticker price. This includes endowments and state and federal aid. Additionally, something to keep in mind is that there are plenty of institutions that cost as much as the Ivies.In either case, when institutions cannot provide grants or scholarships, they expect students to pay for whatever is left over. This results in students having to take out student loans and often asking parents to take out parent plus loans to help with covering the cost of attendance. Over time, research has demonstrated that student loans are harmful. Student loans shoulder several burdens on students. One issue that should concern the public includes the ability of students to contribute to the economy once they leave the institution. Another issue includes devastating mental health issues associated with student debt.
As such, the cost of “worth” has to be weighed into consideration with various factors. Factors include academic decisions such as degree program and degree attainment. For example, a 2021 article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) focused on Ivy League Master’s degree earners. The WSJ study suggests that Master’s degree recipients are not making the salaries to help pay for the enormous amount of loans that Master’s degree earners eventually make. Other studies suggest that Black students are more likely to graduate from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in greater numbers than at Ivies. While at Ivies, students may have access to more resources, research suggests that Black students are actually deprived of resources such as faculty mentors, culturally relevant curriculum, and networking at non-HBCUs. So, in addition to understanding what comes along with that sticker price, we must also consider how students are actually enjoying all those resources that Ivies purport to offer.”
She also commented on the best kinds of return on investment, whether or not college should be free, and tips to graduate with minimal debt.