Placing $$ Value on USNA Degree

Whistle Pig

Jun 9, 2006
I've heard several figures used in referring to value of a USNA appointment and consequent degree and commission.

Does anyone know what is appropriate to use. Our school always adds this figure into scholarship values announced at the Honors Convocation.

Anyone know the "party line" on this?:confused: :idea:
Well, in my day the saying was "A $250,000 education rammed up your ass one penny at a time."

Don't know what the adjustment for inflation would make it. :biggrin:
Recently there was a West Point Cadet that was expelled and he filed a lawsuit to try to avoid the $189,000 the Army was requiring him to repay for the cost of his education.
Ouch go navy. $$ iz serious business for sure.

Wpig, this was discussed alot last year towards graduation. The schools benefit from having high scholarship dollars & will sure want to claim it. :) The best thing for you to do is to contact the academy & request the press release used for school award ceremonies. It will include the dollar amount. I am positive that USNA has a standard release that they use as I obtained a copy via fax for a student last year. They tell me its usually read by someone important such as the BGO at the award ceremonies.

A USMMA Alumni spoke on behalf of our son at his senior awards ceremony & read the USMMA release. It was pretty cool.
Last year, BGOs were told it was $286,000 (for awards ceremony purposes). Have a really funny story about that. I was presenting after the AIO for USAFA. They put out a higher number -- around $325,000. So, when I got up and gave my spiel, I quoted the $286k figure and then added: "The Navy always does more with less." Got a good laugh from the audience. :biggrin:
The figure quoted last night at the CVW brief was $300,000 for the cost of a USNA education.
Indeed, that's the figure used in the Oct CVW. And I'd also heard the $286K 69er mentioned ... that was used in an admissions briefing a year or so ago.

But as was suggested, I presume there may be an "official" # used by USNA. Maybe it's the $300k and Z man's theory of inflation is indeed in affect ... or is it effect? Never could get that one straight.
Whistle Pig said:
Indeed, that's the figure used in the Oct CVW. And I'd also heard the $286K 69er mentioned ...

That was 85er, not me but that, I think, is the correct number. We don't mention that down here in my neck of the woods. Some people can't comprehend that kind of money. I did mention it at my first awards ceremony and after it was over, an older bearded gentleman who was sure his hearing aid wasn't working, came down and asked me to repeat it. I tried to carefully explain my understanding of what all it entailed, much more than the average college. I am sure he is still looking for the GSA fraud, waste, and abuse hotline. It is a small mountain high school which prides itself on providing at least one scholarship to each person planning to attend college. Many receive two or three, all in the range of $500-$1000. It is by far the longest awards ceremony that I attend. I think USNA and I, with our huge "scholarship" somehow offended them. I have never mentioned it again anywhere.

What is appropriate and expected in certain environments is not in others. I am slowly coming to the realization that I am in the "other."
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Two kids in two years got appointments at our small high school. The dollar amounts were never mentioned at the awards banquet or graduation where they announce scholarships received.
Only thing really special was present the appointment at the senior banquet.
Around here is really doesn't matter to the school how many "scholarship" dollars are awarded.
Wondering though if it can really be considered a scholarship - any kid attending any state U in their home state gets a "scholarship" in the name of in-state tuition. Those dollars aren't ever mentioned.

Also, if the cost of military training and equipment is included in that $300,000 then should we not figure the cost of the "scholarship" for our kids who enlist? Just a thought.
The figure is apparently the amount at which USNA values the education for that year's incoming class, which I assume includes military training and the like. BGOs aren't required to mention the amount at any awards ceremony. USNA gives us a little sample "script," which last year included a valuation. As for the script -- we are free to read as is, modify at will, or completely ignore. :smile:
USNA69, you're a class act.

I'm sure school's guidance departments nationwide differ but at our schools, they request a form listing all of the scholarship $$ from each kid receiving them. The school then uses the figures to turn into the state. When son received his appointment, they called me to come down to the school to fill out the document. When I said what the heck for, the counselor told me that they sometimes can get additional state dollars or additional programs by showing that they are improving upon how many kids they get off to a higher education. I grumbled all the way to school to find they were all jumping up & down in their little office & they bombarded me with hugs. Apparently my kid put them way over the top for the year. :biggrin:
Like so many things, I suppose this depends upon one's viewpoint. Lemme offer just a couple thoughts on a most complex subject of higher ed finances and its subset of "financial aid":

1. I think it's a real "stretch" to suggest and describe the difference between in-state and outta-state tuition is scholarship or financial aid to the residents. Rather, there's a surcharge for non-residents. Not a discount to locals. Neither pricetag is based upon actual cost of providing services.

2. For USNA and other SAs, separating military training from scholastic preparation (academic, extra-curriculars, athletics - both inter collegiate and intramural, technology needs, etc.) seems inappropriate. It's all or none required to complete the course of study. Those aspects are simply unique and essential to the SAs educational mission, and because they are is not reason to suggest they're something distinctly separate. No different than the College of Wooster funding its Independent Study Project for every student. Gotta do it, even if it's different than other institutions.

3. My guess is that the figure offered up @ the SAs is probably alot more accurate than we can imagine in attempting to delineate actual cost of Academy operation and the exceptional equipment, personnel and facilities essential to this extraordinary experience. I'll bet this is not much of a stretch at all. Heck 4 years as an on-campus residing, communications major @ George Washington University is well over $225K sticker price. And think of the many alternative streams of revenue available to GWU and other competing institutions that are NOT available to USNA; consider every USNA student has 3 "summer school" sessions, that all must live on campus all 4 years, that all must learn to sail, etc. @ USNA .... Well, it would be no stretch at all to think that USNA could be well over $300K+. As we think about this, the figure could be very low in reality. In fact once one gets perspective on this, $300K may be one of the best educational bargains on the planet.

4. Is reporting is as such a "stretch" or some kind of misnomer? I don't know how it could be. If that's what it costs, that's what it costs. And to say that all fees and expenses are covered ... well that's just the truth.

5. Because other places DO NOT report those expenses covered through research subsidy grants, private philanthropy, sale of sponsorship rites to Pepsi and the like, football tix and stadium boxes, public subsidies, etc. ... Well, that's their pricing policy and tradition. They don't tell the customers this because it would lead to even greater outcry about why in the world it costs Little Local College not $60 million annually but in reality $120 million to allegedly educate 1,500 19 year olds every year. Now that would raise some real eyebrows and interest among those working for the taxpayers, whoever they may be.:confused:

6. And that of course fails to even address the foregone tax revenue, i.e. taxes NOT paid because donors contributed to the U. That's real $$.

So yes there is a differential, but were private or non-SA public colleges/U's to report the funds not charged to its students as financial aid, they'd 1) be the laughing stock of the higher education world, and 2) run great risk of being considered a fraudulent operation, and 3) run the even greater risk of the public wanting and demanding to know what the $$ is spent on. Now that could open a real can of worms. :rolleyes:
You're kinda a serious & chatty Pig for a friday ain't cha? :shake:

Hey, I dug out the old "certificate of presentation" thing from USMMA. The verbage of the $$ amount for USMMA is:

"An appointment to the academy is the equivalent of a scholarship worth approximately $185,000 over the four year period"

WOW! Thats a lot of bling considering the kids are gone to sea for about two years. I love the government.
Ohhhhhhhhh I love playing the devils advocate.

Jamzmom - Thanks for the explanation - they must do things differently down south. Here in PA I don't think the state could care less how much scholarship dollars our kids get. Our school systems don't get much money from the state anyway.

Whistle Pig:
Your own home state of PA considers instate tuition to be a "scholarship" to the instate student who attends - says so in Financial aid literature. A "gift" so to speak from the fine taxpayers in PA. (This way they don't have to give you so much financial aid - haha)
In fact, in some states the law decrees that out of state students be charged the "full cost" of education in their tuition - meaning they do not benefit from those dollars contributed by the state. These are mostly in the Northeast - not so in the South where you see out-of-state tuition at much lower prices.

If you would include military training then if my kiddo accepts the AROTC scholarship, I should get the full cost of ROTC training the Army will provide to her for four years and add that to the tuition scholarship. Hmmmm I wonder if I can find out that number.

How this scenario can back fire:
Lets say there is a younger sibling, say a 12 year old at one of these senior banquets where a big deal is made of the $300,000 scholarship. He comes from a family of limited means and is determined not to put Mom and Dad on welfare. WOW! He thinks - I gotta check this out. I can get a fabulous education for free and serve in the military for a few years to pay it back. Good deal for me. Good deal for mom and dad.
He has a dream in the back of his head and works hard for 4 years to get there.
Now fast forward 4 years to his BGO interview - and he truthfully answers the question "why do you want to attend the US Naval Academy?" (see above)

Wow he just gave the wrong answer! Not only is the answer wrong it is based on his first experience of hearing about USNA, from an admissions representative.

For those of you who insist that the education really isn't "free" - do you want to spread the news of how many hundreds of thousands of dollars you are benefiting from it? And since the education really isn't "free", once could even consider it a loan. A loan that one will pay back with 5 years of Active Duty service.
Just a thought.
They are also paid 38K during their 4 years. Don't forget to add that and the cost of medical and dental insurance.

My son schools ask us to bring in all acceptance letters and scholarship offers. They make a list for parents of other students to know where the class of 200X were admitted. They also add all scholarship dollars up too. The class of 200X had 4 million dollars or whatever the figure is the year.
I don't think anyone is questioning the amount of the cost of educating a single midshipmen, the question is whether it is considered a "scholarship." I have never really sat down and thought through my beliefs before now but privately I decided 5 years ago that it was not truly a scholarship and I would no longer promulgate it as such.

Several weeks ago when WP and I were discussing athletic budgets and he pointed out that the SAs were not in the national NCAA listings. I pointed out the differences and that an "apples to apples" comparison cannot be made. The same is true with the cost of a SA "education".

JAM brings up some very good points:

Does selling it as a scholarship promulgate the idea of a "free" education? I agree with her. I think it does.

Does lumping all the military training into the costs as opposed to ROTC scholarships distort the picture? I agree with her. I think it does.

Does having an eight year obligation (active and reserve) as a result of successful completion of the program cause it to be a loan or part of a contract instead of a scholarship? I agree with her. I think it does.

Should a high school in SC who did not have a SA appointee be concerned that they were competing against another school where "learning to sail" dollars were used against them? I agree with me. I would think they should.

All in all, an interesting discussion. Thanks for the insight.
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I thought it interesting that USMMA uses the words, "equivalent of a scholarship".
We heard 'approximately' 300K last year at our high school scholarship awards event.

I know at least in our area, local high schools compete to say they had the largest scholarship amount awarded to their graduating class. The newspapers print this and it's become quite a competitve game. I've heard even Real Estate folk quote that kind of figure to potential buyers.

So there is a degree of inflation....both ecomonic and human in these figures.

In my opinion a Service Academy Education, to quote a credit card ad, is: PRICELESS.
That's for sure, peskemama!

I'm not enamored with the term scholarship. Call it financial assistance or support. It may be no more scholarship than a grant in aid for athletics. The issue is does it relieve the consumer and/or his parents, guardians, bill payers of financial burden that would otherwise be in need of payment.

The bigger picture is ... may be is this any diff than a student reporting he/she got an all expenses paid ride to GWU or any other institution? Well it is because there IS a required follow-up obligation, but not really. Those officers are remunerated precisely the same as those who did not attend USNA. Their contract may run a little longer.
Peskemom and Jamzmom,

One of the cool things about this forum is learning about "how things are done" in other parts....
With 20 high schools in our county there is plenty of competition but not with scholarship dollars that I have ever seen. We compete mainly on curriculum issues, like AP classes and such.
It is kind of ironic to me because since most kids go to college close to home, we have very high in-state tuition compared to California (free - or close to it) and South Carolina (Out of state tuition there is close to our in-state tuition here). We probably should put more emphasis on not only how many kids move on to higher ed, but how many scholarship dollars they get in order to do so. Learn something new every day.

Peskemom - You summed it up quite nicely - an Academy education is Priceless!