Why Private Colleges Make Financial ‘Cents’

You wouldn’t buy a house based on the list price, but instead the space it offers, the location, job opportunities in the area, or even the number of upgrades. You wouldn’t buy a car based on the sticker price, but instead the gas efficiency, mileage, make and model, or even features.

So why would you choose a college based on the cost of tuition alone?

Studies have shown that private colleges are more financially reasonable than public universities for a number of reasons:

  • Enrollment Rates
  • Graduation Rates
  • Mentoring
  • Tuition Scholarships
  • Job Placement

Enrollment Rates

Why Private Colleges Make Financial Cents
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The average American public university enrolls 9,642 students, according to a study done by Sage Scholars, Inc. They also reported that the average private university enrolls 2,147 students. So what does that break down to? Smaller class sizes. Instead of having a number of classes with 50 or more students in it, there are generally 20 or less. That equals more personalized, engaging, and involved instruction. The value of such close one-on-one interactions is valuable. The financial value of such educational and personal classes costs half as much, and is twice as valuable.

Graduation Rates

Students who attend private colleges have a higher rate of graduation. Studies done by the US Department of Education show that students of private colleges have a 79% graduation rate, versus the 49% that public universities have. That means that mom and dad are paying for an education that is more likely to see the student through to completion, instead of throwing away that money for nothing. That statistic alone increases the financial strength of private vs public college.


Private colleges have great mentoring programs included in the cost of tuition. Due to smaller enrollment numbers, more students at private colleges have access to mentors, making them more likely to succeed in their education and their future careers. The study by Sage Scholars, Inc. also showed that a student who earned a masters in education had stronger morals than a comparable student in a public university, which made them more marketable for a successful job.

Related: Why University Students Need a Career Mentor 

Tuition Scholarships

While private colleges do come with a higher initial price tag, there are a number of tuition scholarships given away every year to students with academic or financial need. These scholarships reduce the cost of private colleges to stand on equal ground with public. In fact, the average cost of private universities is $140,00 (including tuition, books, housing, and transportation) to graduation; the average cost of public universities is $118,000 to graduation. Once scholarships are applied to the cost of the private college (up to $20,000), the cost is $120,00.

Related: How To Fill Out Scholarship Applications

Job Placement

Private colleges are known in the job market for having great education expectations in place. That means that students who complete a program at a private university are likely to find better job placement. For example, according to Payscale, a group who studies average pay for professionals, students who earned a masters at a private college typically found job placement within one month from graduation, earning $69,160 annually. Students who earned the same degree at a public university typically found job placement 9 months or more after graduation, earning $44,079. The ratio of success in job placement for students with a private degree was 4 to 1 with public, and their pay was higher as well.

Related: Not Sure What to Do After Graduation? Try Freelancing 

Earning a degree is about more than just the cost of tuition. It’s about the prestige of the school and the value that education has not just during the process, but for a lifetime.

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