Worth it OR not? GSAPP with no aid?


For those who got into Columbia GSAPP M.Arch but didn't receive any scholarships/fellowships/aids, is it worth it to spend 100k+ per year? 

Mar 11, 18 4:41 pm
Non Sequitur
No. Not worth it. No degree is worth that much debt.
Mar 11, 18 6:11 pm

~300K+ for a M.Arch.... lol. Would not be advisable. Especially for a second tier school like Columbia.

Mar 11, 18 6:49 pm

300k is worth it for harvard law, or medical school.

certainly not worth it for GSAAP.  

Mar 11, 18 7:06 pm

NO, unless your parents make bank........then well sure.....

Mar 12, 18 11:13 am

Do not use your own money or borrowed funds for this.  Only do it if your parents are going to pay for it.

It seems like you could perhaps get  admission and merit-based funding at a lower-tier school with your GSAPP-worthy application and credentials.  

Mar 12, 18 11:24 am

Don't even waste your parents' money. Even if it's free, you lose the time away from getting experience in something useful.


No no no no no!  I can't say this enough, but no!  No program is worth this.  Unless you can guarantee you will graduate with no debt.  Even at just $100k in debt, you think you'll graduate and be extra valuable to a firm because you went to GSAAP that they'll start you out at paying you $75k+ per year.  Not saying it can't happen, but it's not likely.  Most entry-level staff come out knowing next to nothing.  I have friends that did the 'I want the ivy name on my CV, so I'll pay for it all in loans' route... they are $275k+ in debt and will probably never pay it all off.  I personally have a ton of debt from school, and it can be pretty rough.  You get tired of living like a student, putting off major life events well into your late 20s/early 30s because you simply can't afford it.

Mar 12, 18 11:48 am

If you go and rack up this kind of debt you will not be able to buy a home or a nice car until you are 50.  330K over a 40 year plan at 5% you would be paying about 1400 per month.  I would go someplace else. in bidding this is called a F off bid, meaning we will bid too high because we don't want to work with you or in this case have you in our school. go someplace where you are valued. School pedigree is not as important as these schools marketing and recruitment folks want you to think it is.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Mar 12, 18 12:07 pm

It's pretty strange that you'd inflate the cost of GSAPP to $100k/year when Columbia's website clearly states that it's $50k/year. That's still an enormous (and perhaps unjustifiable) amount of money if you don't get any funding, but $150k is a hell of a lot less than $300k. 

Sort of seems like you're trying to discourage people from going to GSAPP, perhaps because you were waitlisted? We've seen that on this board before.

Mar 12, 18 12:22 pm
Non Sequitur

150 is still way too much for an M.Arch.


Which is why I said "still an enormous (and perhaps unjustifiable) amount of money" but thanks for unnecessarily chiming in, dick.

Non Sequitur

One cannot state enough times that these costs are too much. That's not being a dick.

Looking at the Columbia website for a Masters program, not undergrad, the range is 119,000 to 83,000 (includes a stingy 25,000 living expenses)


The exact site I linked to, thanks. OP said M.Arch. $50k/year tuition.

We all know that tuition is a part of the total cost. I think the OP intended to evaluate the total cost which I posted above. Who only looks at the tuition cost alone when considering the cost of a degree?


Technically my "tuition" was $12,000, but I managed to pay over $50k in two years. Fees and expenses (for school and for living) are not insignificant, especially not in NYC.


in another thread you said you went to MIT undergrad and a state school grad. are you saying you went to GSAPP now too?


No I'm saying "tuition" is not equal to the cost of school. This is true regardless of location.

Renzo's Piano

austinaussie, I think you're forgetting about the fact that you'd have to live in NYC without working. Even from that link in your post, Columbia estimates about $85k per year with living, and I believe thats on the low end. So on the low end you're looking at $255k for all three years. 

Mar 12, 18 12:39 pm

I'm not forgetting that at all, I'm just pointing out that the OP is inflating the tuition numbers (and that there is reason to be suspicious of their motive in doing so). Tuition is an apples-to-apples comparison.

There are costs of living associated with being a non-working student in any city, though obviously NYC is more expensive than most. If the OP wants to spend a ton of money to go to GSAPP, I couldn't care less. But if they are massively exaggerating the cost to deter others from going there, that should be called out.

Renzo's Piano

Nah, I totally get that. If you're comparing tuition numbers then yeah you can't say that Columbia costs 100k when UT costs 10k. But to be fair the original post only asked if it was worth it to spend 100k per year on the M.Arch I program, so I was just assuming that they included cost of living and stuff.


I guess, but it still seems awfully sketchy. Where did "$100k+" even come from? Given the number of people willing to pay whatever it costs to go there, it's not like Columbia has any motivation to artificially deflate the cost of attendance.

Are you kidding they have a $75.00 per application incentive to deflate the cost of attendance to rake in more applications which is a source of revenue. Some people will be turned off if the tuition is over their limit to pay/tolerate.


Wow, 75 whole dollars, way to completely miss my point.

If Columbia estimates the cost of attendance (living expenses included) at $83k/year, there are more than enough students willing to pay that amount; there would be more than enough if they estimated the cost at $120k/year. GSAPP is pretty transparent about the fact that it's expensive as hell, they're certainly not pretending to be an affordable option.


How many people apply in a year? isn't it over 1000? I'd like $75 a pop 1000 times each year. Wouldn't have to work.


so would I, but that’s obviously insignificant money to the school. they can literally make that by admitting one more person.

an application has little cost 3-4 people spend 5-10 min on each one, a students has cost because you have to teach them provide studio space and other things.


Nope not worth it. That amount of debt will end up hurting your career options especially if you ever want to start your own firm. 

Mar 12, 18 3:20 pm

Can you ask your mom and dad or grandparents to pay? If so go for it. If you are going to have to take out loans that you will have to pay back yourself you are going to have a tough time paying them back on an architect's salary UNLESS we go through a period of high inflation after you are out of school in which case you would be paying your loans off in inflated dollars. If we do go through a period of inflation your loan payments could turn out to be no big deal. There is a lot of speculation that the trump republicans are going to be taking us on a high inflation ride so counting on inflation isn't a far fetched plan. 

Mar 12, 18 5:04 pm

If we go through a high inflation period, you would be much better off using that 300k to purchase property rather than piss it away on a stupid piece of paper.  You will MAKE money rather than merely repay a loan with cheaper dollars.


All the comments about if it's your parents' money, go for it.... You guys must hate your parents.

Mar 12, 18 7:34 pm

the level of wealth that some of these unfunded students come from is obscene. $150k or $300k or $800k is inconceivably insignificant to these people’s parents, especially if it means they can say their kid went to an Ivy. It's completely fucked.


They deserve to be disinherited since they have demonstrated no sense of responsibility


the parents who gleefully pay for their kids' status symbol degrees? it would behoove you to actually read a post before demonstrating your senility with a reply


the tuition isn't even the expensive parents spend 6 and sometimes 7 figures on admissions consultants, portfolio school...


or in the case of countless international applicants, purchasing admissions portfolios outright. a few years ago I remember hearing about some Chinese students were offered admission on the condition that they visited the school and walked a faculty member through each project’s design process. several couldn’t, and even more refused outright.


oh yes, that still happens. it's pretty much an open secret at this point. for me, the worst offenders are the international students who get rejected from GSD/Yale/Columbia M.Arch, then re-apply for landscape/post professional research programs, simply for the ivy name. once they get in, they are actively hostile to their cohort, the studio pedagogy, and the discipline itself--they don't want to be there, after all, its just an exercise in personal brand building.


these students are a problem, to be sure, but these schools have a responsibility (to the legitimately admitted students, at a minimum) to actively prevent this from happening. admitting those students is often a blatant cash grab, and they are sacrificing the quality of the cohort for the sake of a few more sticker price-paying brand hounds. it’s disgusting.


Do it.

Do it.
Mar 13, 18 3:12 pm

Do it, dycj. If you got the $100k/year, do it. If your parents are spending it for you out of genuine generosity/unconditional love, do it. If you can get a loan, do it. If you have any form of resource at all, do it. You'll pay for it eventually and it will pay off eventually. Worry about that later when you finish the program. You didn't get into Columbia (assuming it's your dream school/top choice) just to let strangers on this forum decide for you and discourage you (assuming it's what you really came here for---to be discouraged; unless you want the discouragement to convince you to go for it). SO GO F*CKING DO IT. 

 And when you finish the program, assuming you pulled a loan and shit, you'll be so in debt and broke AF you'd want to work so f*cking hard and do multiple jobs and become somewhat crazy in the process but the fulfilment you get out of surviving or rising above those years will be worth it---and will make for great stories to tell. SO DO IT. Because no one else is going to do it for ya. And then come back to this thread and revive in like 10 years, like what some people are doing lately in other threads, and give everyone a double middle finger for proving them wrong. 

..|.. ..|..


It's only money and if it wasn't you working for it, who cares, just spend it, empty that trust fund!


It's definitely worth it, spend it, spend it all!

Mar 13, 18 3:33 pm

If you have an undergrad from an accredited program, definitely not worth it. I agree with Dangermouse. An arch degree is not worth 300k.

Mar 13, 18 4:03 pm
Non Sequitur

Arch degree is not even worth 100k


I cringe at my 30k debt from undergrad.

Non Sequitur

I worked 25+ hours during undergrad, retail then arch office, so I think I left with less than 10k in debt. I don't recall exactly where grad school left me, but it sure as hell was not 100k... maybe 50k? Still a shit tonne worth so I can't imagine the fool who pays 100-300k


those who got into Columbia GSAPP M.Arch

there is no M.Arch II at GSAPP (the post-professional program is MS.AAD), so this doesn’t apply to anyone with a B.Arch. 

also, as stated above, the $300k figure is made up. 

Mar 13, 18 4:18 pm

Columbia does offer financial packages. And on-campus housing is worth waiting for (at least from a financial perspective).

That made it work for me -- I'm 46 & my grad school bills were paid off before I was 40

My education and experience there were top notch, and I have no regrets.

Mar 13, 18 4:41 pm

Gee, the old guy that paid for an overpriced M.Arch thinks it was not overpriced...riveting material.


Who are you to judge if it was worth it or not? Good for you proto!


Oh I agree, good for you proto! Not only did you pay full price for one of the most expensive M.Arch programs in the country but you also paid interest on the loans you took out to pay them. Congratulations! As you know, M.Arch programs have one of the best ROIs of all graduate degrees because architects make an inordinate amount of money! This was a great decision! Good for you!

Non Sequitur

Reminds me of one of my undergrad profs. Great teacher but he rode the Ivy train through to a PHD yet, at mid 40, still rode the bus and shopped at goodwill because of the cost of his school bills. Hard to imagine getting a start at life clear of student debt that late. How could one even consider house ownership or kids with that much financial burden... for what, a shiny piece of paper?


NS: Some people are just masochists.  But al least he learned the Impenetrable jibberish necessary to a life in the academy.  What I can't understand is why someone planning to actually DO architecture instead of just talking about it would take on that kind of burden.

Non Sequitur



not worth it

Mar 14, 18 9:17 am

The tuition at Columbia is quite a bit higher today than 20 years ago, even after adjusting for inflation. I would not go into that kind of debt or accept help from my parents either.

Mar 14, 18 9:31 am

helllllll to the NOOO... Do you really think you'll come out so much smarter  and land a job right away, let alone a well paid one?  My entire undergrad left me with $30k debt and I still cringed at that xD  These days, minus the face to face interaction with classmates and faculty, you can learn everything taught in schools on your own by just looking online if you're smart enough to direct yourself.  I would in some ways think an undergrad might be worth it as you're still new to how academia and our profession works.  Once you have an idea, its all about self guided learning.

Mar 14, 18 1:59 pm

I'd argue the entire point of a good design education is to give you better ideas. Sure, you can figure out the concepts of basic structure or waterproofing or whatever from a youtube video, but nothing will ever replace the mixing bowl of ideas that comes out of the incidental interactions you'll get in a good studio environment / from a thoughtful, engaged faculty.


That said, debt ain't no joke and I'd advise against a 100k+ decision if it means 100k+ in loans.


yeah, there are good reasons not to go into this kind of debt for an architecture degree, but “you can learn everything taught in schools on your own by looking online” is a fantastically stupid and ignorant one. design students learn through feedback from faculty and peers; learning software is not the same thing as architecture education


Exactly why I said spending that much money for undergrad is worth it so you have an idea of what architectural education involves. No one mentioned anything about software. Yes, feedback from faculty and peers is important. If one is smart enough, they can get feedback for their self-guided study online and in person by reaching out to people in the industry.


still fucking terrible advice. there is no mechanism for online feedback that replaces the academic studio environment and regular crits and reviews. I brought up software because it’s the only part that makes any sense to self-teach via the internet. you know you’re wrong about this so just stop.



Mar 14, 18 2:53 pm

Nope.  Does not compute.  300k with starting salary of as low as 35k to highest 55k(mostly with arc/engineering firms) for a masters

You should watch some David Ramsey podcasts. Lots of stories of people regretting their decision to take on so 100k+ debt for degrees that don't pay.  Could smack some perspective onto you.  He's good at that, smacking people upside the head

Mar 14, 18 8:50 pm

Paying full price for a degree in architecture at a second tier school like Columbia is idiotic. It is the second choice for people that couldn't get into HYPSM (HYPM for arch).

Most companies/people don't put much weight in the "name brand" schools and the ones that do will always hold HYPSM in higher regard than Columbia.

Mar 15, 18 12:06 am

you love talking about these "tiers"


No. Architecture school is what you make of it in every sense, anywhere. And it's also about time people stop buying into "being around important people makes me important" myth. 

Sep 4, 19 11:20 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: