The high cost of college is playing an increasingly important role in the way Lower Hudson Valley families go about choosing schools. Students representing a wide range of economic demographics – from New Rochelle HS (41% students qualify for free lunch) to Fox Lane HS (only 5% qualify) – are choosing community college as a way to save money.
A high school guidance counselor sees more students who have decided to cut costs by giving up the dorm experience.
“If it’s their first time around, the price tag is shocking to parents,” said Cleary, noting that in recent years more of her school’s graduates live at home and commute to colleges within an hour’s drive to save money.
One student’s story offered a window into how the faltering economy may actually be causing families to make wiser choices.
New Rochelle High School graduate Chanelle Cawley considered attending Queens College and The Art Institute of New York.
“It was really expensive, basically, to pay that much money for my freshman year,” said Cawley, 17, who graduated Thursday from New Rochelle. She decided against the more expensive schools and opted to start at Westchester Community College, where she will study Web design.
“It’s a great program to start, and once I do my two years I can just go and transfer to a different school,” she said. “I’m planning on going to The Art Institute.”
Yearly tuition at The New York Art Institute (AI) is approximately $25,000, with housing costs adding about $20,000 more. AI’s parent company, Education Management, is battling government charges it violated federal law in garnering billions of state and federal financial aid. It is hoped that Cawley will look carefully at potential job prospects before she takes on student loans to study web design at this school.