When it comes to deciding where you’ll attend college, we know tuition cost likely carries a significant weight in your decision. And for good reason!
College is a big investment—wherever you ultimately decide to go. But it is one of the most important investments you can make in both your personal and professional life.
Oftentimes, one of students’ biggest considerations is if they should pursue a degree at a public college or a private college. There can be differences in things like campus life, academic program offerings, and—you guessed it—tuition.
The biggest reason for the tuition difference is that public institutions are funded primarily by state governments, while private colleges are supported primarily by their own endowment funds, donor contributions, and students’ tuition fees.
But, here’s the good news. A private college’s tuition is not as cut and dry as it sounds—and tuition can actually end up being more affordable than it appears.
Here are three insider tips you should know about tuition cost at a private college:
1. Know that the sticker price isn’t the final price.
The initial sticker shock that many students feel when researching private college tuition is normal. However, we want you to know that the sticker price you see is almost always nowhere near what you will pay.
Private colleges generally appear more expensive than public institutions, but their ability to offer more attractive financial aid packages can sometimes make them equal to—if not more affordable than—public universities.
At a private college, you likely will have the opportunity to amass a collection of scholarships and grants offered by the college itself. These can be things like…
- Academic merit scholarships
- Leadership scholarships
- Military service scholarships
- Donor-sponsored scholarships
- Alumni Legacy scholarships
- Work-study grants
The best way to discover what your financial aid package at a private college could be? Talk to a financial aid advisor!
2. Take advantage of federal aid available to you.
One of the best things you can do in your college search process is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The application will determine your eligibility for student financial aid. This can significantly bring down the tuition cost of a private college!
The U.S. Department of Education awards about $115.6 billion in federal grants, loans and work-study funds, according to the 2020 Federal Student Aid annual report.
And, 86.4% of first-time, first-year undergraduate students receive financial aid in some form.
Curious to see what you may qualify for? You can fill out the FAFSA application online at studentaid.gov or using the myStudentAid mobile app. You will provide your demographic information, the schools you’re considering, dependency status, your parents’ demographic information, and financial information.
Our tip: File your FAFSA as early as possible to improve your chances of qualifying for the most aid! Each year, the FAFSA opens on Oct. 1.
3. Consider value over everything.
Once you combine all of your financial aid—including federal aid and college-awarded aid—you’ll have a better idea of what you will actually pay in tuition at a private college.
Sometimes it ends up being comparable to, or even less than, a public college. (Yay!) But other times, it still may be a bit more expensive.
Here’s our advice. Consider what you are paying for, not just what you are paying.
In other words, consider the value you are receiving from a college. Oftentimes, a private college can offer significant benefits—that are valuable to you—that a public institution simply can’t.
Some of these benefits may include…
- Smaller class sizes where you can learn in a discussion-based environment
- Professors who intentionally build mentor relationships with their students
- A close-knit college community to call home
- Leadership opportunities where you have the opportunity to make real change
- A tighter alumni network
- A specific religious affiliation that incorporates faith with academics
These are all things that can greatly impact you and your college experience as you prepare for a lifelong career.
There may also be monetary benefits of attending a private college. A recent report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce aimed to evaluate the return on investment for different kinds of academic degrees.
It concluded that the economic gains for attending a private nonprofit college are $838,000, compared to $765,000 for a public college. So, while you might pay a higher tuition at a private college, a degree from a private institution may hold the greater long-term financial value.
Regardless, evaluating exactly what a private college offers you—its value—is crucial to making the best investment for you and your future.
Invest in your future at MACU.
Looking for an affordable private college to pursue your degree? Check out Mid-Atlantic Christian University.
MACU is a liberal arts college with a focus on the Bible and applying biblical truth to life. Live and learn in a diverse, family environment. Build strong relationships with faculty and students. Take in the beauty of a campus located on the riverfront. Prepare yourself for a career—and a life—of extraordinary Christian leadership.
The best part? MACU makes a private college education affordable. In fact, 98% of MACU students receive financial aid! And, more than 250 scholarships are awarded each year.
To learn what your financial aid package could look like at MACU, reach out to our financial aid team. We’d love to help you start your journey at MACU!