I love to visit the campus of my alma mater and make photographs. There are great scenes at every turn.
It’s always been that way, but it’s moreso now after a giant building boom in the early 2000s. This picturesque little chapel was part of that boom, and it is often photographed.
I don’t visit campus as often now as I used to. It’s only about 90 minutes away, so it’s not because it’s hard to reach. I’ve just developed some negative feelings about the place over the last several years, and it’s all due to this school’s insane cost.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is a private university in Indiana that specializes in engineering, science, and mathematics. For 20 straight years, US News and World Report has named it the #1 undergraduate engineering education in the nation. It’s a tough school — its highly intelligent students work very hard to earn their degrees.
It’s also a very expensive school. When I attended in the late 1980s, it cost about $60,000 to complete all four years, including tuition, room, and board. That was an eye-watering amount back then, and only Notre Dame was as expensive in Indiana. But financial aid was generous, and my working-class family qualified for a good amount of it. My family still had to stretch to afford it, but we managed it.
I have no idea how a working-class family would manage it today, as four years of Rose-Hulman now cost about 480 percent more – a little over $290,000.
Rose-Hulman has become a luxury product that only the elite can afford.
Our youngest son was accepted into Rose-Hulman four years ago. He got no financial aid. Now, we are hardly a working class family, so I didn’t expect a full ride. But we’re also not a wealthy family able to pay for this outright. After we paid what we could, our son would have to take out enormous loans for the rest. He was looking at $200,000 of debt upon graduation. We told him it was a bad idea, and he shouldn’t do it.
The company I worked for a few years ago had a number of young Rose grads as software engineers. Chatting with them one day about their Rose experiences, one of them offered that the worst part of it was the monthly student-loan payment. His was more than $2,500 each month. The other Rose grads all nodded in sad agreement. One said that he had hoped to join a hot startup upon graduation, and he had offers, but the inherently lower salaries were a barrier thanks to his huge student-loan payment. He had to take the offer from the large, established company we worked for simply because it paid a lot better. We worked with older, out-of-date technologies and he rightly worried that he was harming his future potential.
In Indiana, Purdue University remains a relative bargain at a hair over $80,000 for four years. You can get a very good engineering, science, or mathematics education there. When young people ask me about Rose-Hulman, I tell them to go to Purdue instead.
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