Posted by: Louis Lavelle on October 16, 2008
By Alysa Teichman
In a few weeks, when BusinessWeek comes out with its ranking of full-time MBA programs, you might notice that living expenses at many schools have taken a plunge.
The new figures still have me scratching my head. Inflation is up—everything costs more than it did 20 minutes ago—and a lot of schools are reporting that the cost of living has actually declined. In all, nine schools in the 2006 Top 30—two of them in the Top 10—are making that claim.
Take, for example, the cost of living at Northwestern’s Kellogg school (where I am finishing up my own undergraduate studies). Last year, the school reported that living expenses were about $25,000 a year. This year, Kellogg claims the figure is under $15,000 a year, a decrease of $10,000 or 40%.
Why the difference? Kellogg says this year’s reported costs cover room and board only, while last year’s included additional expenses or as they put it, “anticipated costs,” such as health insurance, a computer, and travel.
Kellogg isn't the only school anticipating a frugal academic year.
Chicago, Cornell, University of North Carolina, Georgetown, Washington University, and Vanderbilt all made sharp cuts in their estimated cost of living figures.
Considering that many students will have to pay for “anticipated costs” eventually (for starters, most schools require that students have health insurance), are lower reported living expenses a new way for schools to seem like a bargain? Are they trying to stand out from the crowd on rankings charts?
More to the point: does anyone think they can get by in Evanston on less than $15,000 a year?