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Deciding between MSW @ UMich vs UBuffalo

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Long post ahead, but will try to make it as short and easy to follow as possible.

Also would love to answer any questions to provide clarification!

I am 21 years old and will be graduating college (NY) this spring with a BSW. My girlfriend graduated this past winter (Alabama) with a BSW & a BS in psychology. 

We’ve been in a long distance relationship for a few years now. As post-graduation life approaches, we are taking serious strides to close the gap between us and begin a life together. After graduation, my girlfriend moved back home (Michigan).

We both plan on pursuing an Advanced Standing MSW program. Recently, I’ve been giving a JD/MSW a thought, but more likely than not, I will also be pursuing an MSW.

We both applied and were accepted to the University of Michigan. We were super happy to get in, as it is a competitive program with a concentration of macro social work that we both have a strong preference over clinical social work. 

Upon schooling, we both would like to work in similar career fields, as hinted by our interest above. I’d like to get involved in politics, advocacy/legislation work. My girlfriend would like program evaluation type of work along with other realms of macro focused social work. Hence why we both really enjoyed UM’s curriculum and structure. 

A major issue, more for me, is the cost. For 1 year, 3 semesters, the advising offices told me it’d cost $23,000 per semester (being an out of state student). This is without any merit or need based aid. While I have a high enough GPA which would MAYBE grant me some scholarships, my parents make too much where I’d get any need based aid. My girlfriend would be paying $14,000 per semester (being a Michigan resident).

Since we do envision a life together, we broke down how much debt we’d have. *this is not taking into account scholarships, loans, grants or any loan forgiveness programs in the future.*

UM: $23,000 x 3 = $69,000
$14,000 x 3 = $42,000

for a total of $111,000.


With the shear cost, we both began rethinking this route. 

A local university closer to me (University at Buffalo) would cost me $8,000 per semester for a total of $24,000 for the year. For her (out of state) would cost $12,000 per semester for a total of $36,000. A grand total around $60,000 combined.

However, from what I’ve heard from peers and faculty at my school now, UB is geared more towards clinical students. We both have taken our fair share of micro focused classes and really want to expand into the macro side of social work.

I’ve read on here that the prestige of an MSW program doesn’t make much difference. Also, we do not planning on living in Michigan or New York upon graduation.

So we are torn. Do we save a ton of money (collectively speaking) and attend a program where our interests aren’t necessarily met, or do we attend a more prestigious program more geared to our interests? (and be in double the amount of debt?)

We really don’t want to do any more time apart from each other & want to make the smartest, most responsible decision. Any thoughts and feedback would be appreciated!

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