Will the International Baccalaureate® Diploma save you money on college?

College-bound families should ask three questions, and they go hand in hand with one another…Where can we get in? Where can we get aid? What schools can we actually afford? IB students should ask the same questions.

The International Baccalaureate® program was created in 1968 as an advanced educational option for students to “develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.”  Currently offered in 143 countries worldwide, the IB Programme was established to provide students with a balanced education, to facilitate geographic and cultural mobility and to promote international understanding. School districts follow a unique academic program with increased rigor then a standard college preparation plan.  While students benefit from the enhanced education they will receive from having an IB Diploma, parents may be disappointed in the amount of financial benefit they will see when applying to college unless they know where to look.

Parents are often surprised when their IB student does not see financial aid offers based on their student’s academic achievements. Although the IB Diploma may certainly bolster your chances of being admitted, many flagship universities like Notre Dame or Ivy League colleges do NOT award scholarships for the accomplishment. Why? Families with no demonstrated financial need at these elite institutions will be expected to pay the full cost of attendance. In other words, the student may be accepted to these schools, but the family may not have $250,000 set aside to pay for it. On the other end of the spectrum, if you do qualify for need-based aid these schools typically meet 100%. So never rule a school out based on the sticker price.  A very few will offer scholarship dollars for an IB Diploma. Sound confusing?  It is. You need to “know before you go”.

Another way to achieve college savings with an IB Diploma is through the earning of college credit.  Most schools recognize the value of IB and award college credit for it. However, you may be surprised that only higher level courses with a high grade requirement will earn you credit at universities like Yale. Some universities are more generous with their credit awarding. By casting your net a bit wider you can find schools willing to grant sophomore college status. This could cut your cost of college by 25%! 

To help you consider both schools that offer financial awards and schools that offer more generous credit hour awards, we have pulled together this list to help you think out of the box a bit in terms of what is out there for your IB student.

If your student is a good fit for the IB program and it will meet your goals for their education, strongly consider taking advantage of it. However, be aware that college money and college credit are not guarantees.  More and more, creating a college selection and funding plan needs to start in the freshmen and sophomore year so you can capitalize on earning college credits at your targeted institution while in high school through the IB Diploma Program and other dual enrollment options like Ohio’s College Credit Plus

It is more important than ever to be PROACTIVE in communicating a college budget to your students long before they even begin applying.  They need to understand your desire to help them make a smart college buying decision. Just like we discussed in our Unicorn University blog, you can find that college that fits for your student academically, socially, and financially — you just have to poke around!