When choosing which college to attend next year, high school senior Ronald Nelson made what some people might see as a controversial decision.
He turned down every school in the Ivy League and decided to attend the University of Alabama.
Nelson also rejected offers from Stanford, Johns Hopkins, New York University, Vanderbilt, and Washington University in St. Louis, he told Business Insider.
The Memphis, Tennessee-area student said he decided to pass on these big names in favour of UA for two big reasons: He got a full ride from Alabama and got into its selective honours program.
By comparison, he received only partial tuition from the Ivy League schools based on his family’s “demonstrated need” — determined by factors such as a family’s income, assets, and size. He would have to take on debt in order to afford the school.
“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.
His father, Roland Sr., elaborated on his son’s decision. “I think it would have been possible, given some sacrifice,” his father said. “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.”
Following in the footsteps of his grandparents, Nelson wants to attend medical school and train to be a doctor.
However, medical school often comes with a hefty pricetag. For the 2014-2015 academic year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average tuition for private medical colleges was around $US50,000, plus another several thousand for fees.
And the cost is just going up. Harvard University, for example, estimates in 2015-2016 a total cost of $US87,175 for an incoming first-year student at its top ranked medical school — $US55,850 for tuition and $US31,325 for fees, supplies, and living expenses.
To combat these high costs, many medical students turn to loans, racking up large debts by the time they graduate. On average, medical students at private colleges who borrowed money graduates with $US190,053 in debt in 2014, according to the AAMC.
If Nelson continues on his current path, he’s bound to need the money his family is saving by his taking the full-ride offer from Alabama.
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