Colleges have a "list price" of tuition. Don't let this scare you away from considering a private college education. Not only is the "list price" unlikely to be the price that you actually pay. In fact, a private college may cost less than a state school.
Scholarships, also known as merit aid, are the part of a student's financial aid known as "gift aid" or "tuition discounts". This is aid that does not have to be repaid (like student loans), and is not based on a family' financial need (like some grants). Tuition discounts tend to be large at most private colleges, compared to small, or non-existent, at state and public colleges.
According to a survey by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), 89.2% of first-time, full-time private college freshmen receive a reduction from the listed price of tuition. Grant aid is rising as private colleges seek to remain affordable and attract the best possible student body.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 53% of students at non-profit private colleges & universities complete their degree in 4 years - versus only 33% at public college & universities. Students are 61% more likely to graduate in 4 years at a non-profit private college. Overall, private colleges graduate the same percentage of students in 4 years that state schools do in 6. Graduating from college in less time means significant savings in tuition, room, board and other costs associated with being in school. It also means getting into the job market sooner which increases career earnings and can reduce interest payments on student loans.
When most people shop for major purchases such as a house or a car, they don't just look at price. Instead, other factors such as quality, and overall "fit" are considered. Families should look at college the same way. For example, consider student loans. In Pennsylvania, the federal student loan debt for graduates of the 55 private colleges that belong to the SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards Consortium is not much higher than that of state school grads (less than $20 per month).
|Median Federal Student Loan Debt at Graduation|
|State||SAGE Scholars Private Colleges||Public Colleges|
When most families consider all of the benefits that a private college education can offer, they find that those benefits outweigh any marginally higher net cost.