For most high school students, the cost of college can be daunting. Students have to choose between in-state schools, public universities, religious colleges, and private colleges, all while weighing their options against their budget.
Most students start with the misunderstanding that all private colleges are unaffordable. This is unfortunate, because some of the best higher education in this country is done in private colleges. If you’re looking for a private college that’s affordable, look no further. We’ve created a collection of recommendations of colleges and tips to seek out affordable private college options.
Why Private Schools Are Affordable
The initial sticker shock that many applicants to private colleges feel is normal. Tuition listed on private college websites ranges from $20,000 to $60,000 a year before financial aid. These numbers lead many applicants to believe that the school is not affordable for them.
However, the truth is that many private colleges offer more financial aid packages, of a higher value than public universities. Once you factor in these aid packages, the cost of tuition is equal to or less than public school tuition. Also, while public colleges do offer financial aid to students, private colleges offer aid to a higher percentage of them.
What’s the Actual Price of Tuition?
Let’s take a moment to define a few terms to better understand what the cost of attending a private colleges actually is.
Posted price: This the price that colleges post on their website, typically considered the maximum price of a full-time student. It’s unlikely you’ll have to pay that much money.
Net price: This is the price a student will pay after scholarships and grants are deducted. This is the price that you should use when comparing the cost of colleges. If one school has offered you a great scholarship, it’s likely a better cost than a comparable school that hasn’t offered any scholarship.
Knowing the difference between the posted price and the net price can make a big difference in which schools you choose to apply to and attend. Finding and calculating the net price of different schools is where you’ll benefit from spending your research time and effort with regards to budgeting for college.
The Private School Cost Calculation Process
If you’re certain that you want to attend a private school, it’s time to start looking into which schools will offer you financial aid and what that financial aid does to your cost of attending the college.
There are some foolproof steps to be able to calculate and understand what your cost will be at each private college you’re interested in applying to.
Some factors of the final cost of college won’t be included here. Special, merit-based scholarships cannot be included in this calculation until you’ve applied and they’ve been awarded. If you know how much merit-based scholarship you’ve been offered, even better. You can get a more accurate picture of the final cost of attending college at that school.
Steps to calculate college costs:
Gather tax documents (ask your parents if you’d like some help.)
- Go to a tuition calculator website.
- Plug in your numbers to the tuition calculator.
- Save the results, including the starting cost of tuition, for later comparison.
- Go to the next private college website on your list.
- Continue these steps until you’ve calculated the cost of each private college you’re interested in attending.
Then it’s time to make comparisons. Once you’ve collected all of your data, you can compare the cost of attending each school. This may not be a complete picture if you can’t include merit-based scholarships, outside scholarships, or government grants, but it will give you a good first step in assessing the cost of attending different private colleges.
The Value of Private Schools
When you consider the actual price you end up paying, private colleges may actually be a better value. While making your decision, consider that many private schools offer:
- Smaller class sizes
- More interaction between professors and students
- Classes that are more often taught by professors than graduate students
- Smaller student body so making connections with other students is easier
- More opportunities for gaining leadership experience
Depending on the experiences and outcomes you want in your college experience, a private school may be an even better value than a public one.
5 Tricks to Make College More Affordable
College is a big investment. There’s no way to get around this fact in the modern world. Here are five more tips and tricks to help lower your out-of-pocket cost for college.
- Earn credits elsewhere. Most colleges allow you to transfer credits from other colleges. There are often limitations to what can transfer and a maximum number of credits that can be completed at other schools, but any transferred credits can help to lower your tuition cost. Look into the credit transfer rules of any school that you’re interested in attending. Credits can be earned prior to attending a private college or can be earned during the summer and winter breaks by taking classes at community colleges.
- Explore all aid options. You can receive scholarships and grants from many different sources. Your school may offer some, the government has ways of helping out, and there are numerous scholarships out there for special interests and even body and personality characteristics. Don’t think that there isn’t scholarship money out there for you.
- FAFSA. Be sure to properly fill out and submit your FAFSA application on time. Even if you don’t think you’re eligible for aid from the government, fill it out and see if you are. Be sure to research other federal aid programs or even aid from your local government.
- Be creative. This tip is similar to earning credits elsewhere, but helps you to get a little more creative. Not only can you earn credits elsewhere, but you can do it in high school by taking AP courses and can earn credits online. Taking online and AP classes can help you to earn those extra credits and lower your cost for college tuition.
- Reduce materials. College materials can make up a significant portion of your college costs. This includes textbooks and supplies for different classes. There are many options out there to get textbooks for less money than the college bookstore. Be sure to start your research early and to look at many different options before ordering textbooks.
Affordable Private Colleges of Distinction
Colleges of Distinction has vetted many finest private schools in the country. We hope that this helped you to realize that an education at a private college is within your financial reach. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions on finding out if a college is affordable for you. Below are some of the most affordable. Be sure to click the links to read more:
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