Sallie Mae, local tutors find parents still believe in investing in higher ed


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With the cost of a private college education at around $41,000 per year, according to The College Board, is a college education at that price point a great value?

While some may say no, others argue getting into that school of your choice may mean invaluable opportunities in a chosen career field.

“Depending on the tier school your child would like to go to, there are pretty much cut-off scores — below that score, schools won’t even look at your application,” Joe Hannon, a private tutor in Lackawanna County who has helped countless students score better on the SAT.

“There is incredible competition to get into these schools,” he said. “You could have great grades in high school, but if you don’t have a great SAT score, a lot of these schools won’t look at you.”

Hannon said many parents spend a lot of extra money to accompany a traditional high school education in hopes of helping their child achieve a better score on the college entrance exam.

Hannon’s expertise is in the verbal and writing section of the SAT. He’s a retired teacher who taught in New Jersey and Pocono Montain. He said he’s had some conversations with parents about the value of a private school versus the value of a state school.

“State schools are relatively cheaper than the private schools,” he said. “But they don’t offer a lot of financial aid as compared to the private schools. So you might end up paying as much to go to a private school as you would to a state school, but much of it depends on your income level.”

Hannon said it ultimately comes down to a personal choice about price and debt.

“Sometimes, you have to look at whether going to a private school is worth the investment,” he said, adding that students come out of school heavily in debt, especially on the undergraduate level. “The theory should probably be to go to the best undergraduate school you can at the price you can afford, get that degree, do as well as you can and then move to the next level.” In some cases, an employer might even pay in-full or partially pay for the master’s degree.

“I don’t know the wisdom of going into debt for the student or a parent of going into so much debt for an education right now,” he said. “If you can afford it, wonderful, but there are a lot of good deals out there to get a degree without spending a lot of money.”

He said a nursing degree is a great example. Hannon said there are a lot of great nursing programs that aren’t costly. “Get that degree and then most likely somewhere down the road, you might end up going to graduate school,” he said.

“I see a very high demand for SAT-prep and that’s been a growing segment of my business,” said Kathleen Sileo, owner Kathleen Sileo’s Professional Tutoring Service, Dunmore. She’s been in the business 13 years. “Getting those scores up is a huge concern for parents.”

She said in many cases, many parents do hope that spending the money on an SAT prep course will be worth it in the long run with higher test scores. “Given the cost, I think you have to really think this thing though before taking the leap,” she said.

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