So many families in Georgia look to an in-state public college with the Hope Scholarship as their default choice when looking for an inexpensive college education. It's easy to make the assumption that in-state colleges offer the best value. Lower sticker prices and the Hope Scholarship provide a false sense of security when evaluating the costs and benefits of these institutions compared to other private or out-of-state options. In my experience, many of these in-state colleges actually present the least value. Here are three facts that should convince you to review other college options.

1. Georgia is really good about raising prices. As a matter of fact, we are second best in the country when it comes to costs increases for the past 5 years. With cuts in state funding, our in-state colleges have no choice but to raise prices. What you pay in the first year of college can drastically differ in what you pay for the 4th year.

College Cost Increases Past 5 Years

College Board 2014 Trends in College Pricing

2. Georgia is not so good when it comes to 4-year grad rates. There are a lot of methods of calculating our 4-year grad rate, so the numbers can vary. Regardless of methodology, we rank from mediocre to bottom of the barrel. With most students graduating within six years and half of our students taking even longer, we have a graduation problem in Georgia. 

4 - Year Grad Rate at Select Public Georgia Colleges

Chronicle of Higher Education - 2013

3. Few of our students actually hold on to the Hope Scholarship. Less than 30% keep the Hope Scholarship the entire time they are in college. Combined with our lousy 4-year grad rates in Georgia, you can start to see why going in-state can actually be the most expensive option for many families.

4-Year Hope Scholarship Retention

University System of Georgia - 2012

I've had a few families accuse me of using "scare tactics" when I present this information. These are just plain facts. Should families be scared? I'll let you decide. Most families I present these facts to are hearing them for the first time and use this information to make wiser college choices. As a college planner in Atlanta, what kind of advisor would I be if I did not share this information? Your student may or may not have a positive educational experience in Georgia. The facts show that most of your students will not. With this in mind, I urge families to look at options in and out-of state. I also urge families to consider public and private college options.