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HBU’s “A Higher Education” and the Return on Investment

For financial aid resources, scholarship information, and helpful links to both, see page 3!

Candy Espinoza didn’t know how she would go to college; she just knew that she would.  Her father had done well with his construction company, and she admired her homemaker mother. Yet, Espinoza’s dreams meant she needed more than a high school diploma.

But as she neared high school graduation, Espinoza realized she was entering an unfamiliar realm. Although she had the support of her family, they couldn’t guide her with the next step.

“I didn’t even know how I was going to apply for college,” she said. “I didn’t know how I was supposed to apply for scholarships or how to apply for the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). It was a whole new world.”

Espinoza and her family learned new information and terminologies as they waded through the college application process. As the eldest of four children, Espinoza was inspired to pave the way for her younger siblings.

“I was motivated to be able to have a better job than what a high school diploma would get me,” she said. “I’ve always had a vision of becoming a businesswoman. I wanted to get a degree and do something that I love.”

Espinoza and her father toured several Texas colleges. The straight-A student had aimed for The University of Texas since middle school, but had a change of heart.

“From the first time my father and I visited HBU, I felt an incredible peace there,” Espinoza said. “My dad was really happy with the type of students we saw. We had toured UT Austin, Texas A&M and U of H. You can truly see the difference at HBU. You can perceive that spiritual sense and peacefulness. It wasn’t so liberal; it was a little more conservative. I fell in love with the campus too; I thought it was so beautiful.”

Even though Houston Baptist University became Espinoza’s first choice, she wondered if the private school’s tuition would be out of reach.

“I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to attend HBU,” she said. “What really opened the door for me was that I received a merit-based scholarship.”

Initially, Espinoza received the President’s Scholarship, which took into account her high school GPA, high school rank and college entrance exams. After retaking the SAT and earning a slightly higher score, Espinoza was bumped up to receive the Founder’s Scholarship, HBU’s most prestigious award, for $21,000 per year over the course of four years.

Espinoza said, “I love that I get to interact with professors and have classrooms that are a lot smaller than other places.”

She advises future students: “Dream big. Even if you don’t think you’ll get in, go ahead and apply. God will show you the way He wants you to go.”

The Net Price and Payoff

Stories like Espinoza’s are commonplace at HBU. In fact, about 95 percent of HBU students receive merit or need-based financial aid, or a combination of both, James Steen, HBU vice president for Enrollment Management, said.

“We have a fairly healthy discount rate,” he said. “It’s something we try very aggressively to maintain. We help students qualify for financial aid, including academic scholarships, institutional grants, federal aid and state aid that will enable them to attend.”

The 2017-2018 tuition and fees price tag is $31,730. But the “sticker price” is very different from the average net cost. If housing and meal expenses are included, along with books and supplies, the average net price for students is closer to $20,000 per year (1).

“The reality is that we really want to encourage parents and students to focus on the net price,” Steen said. “That is the average price after merit and need-based aid is applied. We are one of the more affordable options from a net-price perspective, even compared to state institutions.”

Data from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that HBU’s net cost is several thousand dollars lower than counterparts like Dallas Baptist University, University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, Abilene Christian University and others (2).

When families are thinking of college costs, they are especially concerned with the payoff in the years after graduation. According to statistics from the Social Security Administration, graduates with bachelor’s degrees earn between $600,000 and a million dollars more in average lifetime earnings than high school graduates (3). The earnings for those with graduate degrees only increases.

While some with only high school diplomas are able to find a career niche in which they make a healthy living, average salaries for high school graduates are less desirable, and things like employee benefits, company retirement plans and regular work schedules are less possible. Additionally, increased automation makes human judgment an even more valuable commodity, asserts the Harvard Business Review (4).

“Higher education is an investment that students make into their futures,” Steen said. “The investments you make in education, and especially in a bachelor’s degree, have the ability to pay off exponentially.”

Even with all of the benefits of a college degree, paying for higher education can be a hindrance. According to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, about 60 percent of parents save for their children’s education. But among parents who set aside funds, only about 37 percent of those take advantage of 529 plans — college-savings plans that make the money go further by allowing it to grow tax-sheltered (5).

any students have found ways to avoid or minimize student loans. Outside of traditional financial aid, an often-overlooked source of financial aid is private scholarships available from organizations, foundations, clubs and companies.

For those who are “juggling college and career simultaneously,” USA Today notes that a number of top companies are giving tuition benefits for employees (6). Some organizations have even begun offering repayment assistance for past student loans in what Forbes Magazine has termed “The Hottest Employee Benefit of 2017” (7).

Gunter Clements for Higher Ed. ROI ArticleEspinoza set herself up for minimizing costs years before college began by being a standout student academically and extracurricularly. She took preparation courses for the SAT, and re-took the test several times until she reached her desired score.

Students like Gunter Clements, a business major, took a job as a basketball manager at HBU. The job supplements the two scholarships and grant he received. Other opportunities for work-study positions abound, Steen said.

Nursing major Daniel Dipasupil saves by commuting from his home south of the University. He enjoys the benefits of what college life has to offer, while continuing to be close to activities he is accustomed to, including playing the electric guitar for his church.

References in This Section

  1. “College Cost Guides and Price Rankings.” U.S. Department of Education’s Online CollegeCalc: Houston Baptist University.
  2. “College Cost Guides and Price Rankings.” U.S. Department of Education’s Online CollegeCalc: Texas Colleges.
  3. “Education and Lifetime Earnings.” Social Security Administration’s Online Office of Retirement Policy.
  4. Agrawal, Ajay, Gans, Joshua and Goldfarb, Avi. “The Simple Economics of Machine Intelligence.” Harvard Business Review. November 2016.
  5. Huang, Nellie S. “The Best College Savings Plans, 2017.” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine. September 2017.
  6. Stone, Brianna. “15 Companies That Help Employees Pay for College.” USA Today. April 2017.
  7. Friedman, Zack. “Student Loan Repayment: The Hottest Employee Benefit of 2017.” Forbes Magazine. December 2016.
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