One of the largest factors in determining your future wealth begins well before you set out on your career. It occurs when you choose which university to attend. In an ideal world, you should aim to pay the least amount of money for the best possible education. If a private institution will provide you with scholarships and financial aid packages that cost less than a public university, then by all means attend one. For the rest of us, a state college or university is probably the best bet.
One may argue that private schools provide a higher level of education than state universities. Having attended a state university only, I cannot debate this point. I can tell you that in my experience most employers care about the degree, not the institution that issued it.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Some occupations certainly do place a higher level of significance on the prestige of one’s alma mater, so those pursuing a career in law or medicine may need to attend a private institution for further career advancement. But for those looking to start their careers without the burden of enormous debt I urge you to consider a public university over a private one. In essence, a degree from a state college will give you a head start on life. While graduates of private universities are paying off their debts you can start saving for your first down payment or contributing to your Roth IRA.
When I discuss this topic with graduates of private universities they often say, “it doesn’t matter where I went to school. My parent’s paid my tuition.” Unfortunately, those individuals fail to realize that most of us will inherit the wealth our parent’s leave behind. And hundreds of thousands of dollars left in the bank would do you a lot better than a degree that could have been earned for half the price.