Public vs. Private Schools

One of the most important factors students often overlook when applying to college is whether the college is private or public. This can have an impact on the general make-up of the school and its culture. Most significantly, it has a tremendous impact on the cost of tuition. We've broken up the pros and cons into two basic tables so you can compare. The average tuition is based on the cost of one year, and includes room and board and other expenses. Keep in mind, this is the price before financial aid or scholarships are taken into account. It is important to look at how these pros and cons would apply to you, because they are generalizations and some may weigh heavier on your decision than others.

Public Colleges
Average Tuition: $7,605 (in-state), $11,990 (out-of-state)
Pros Cons
Lower expenses Less financial aid offered
Scholarships can cover what financial aid doesn't Very few are need-blind and/or offer 100% need met
Schools receive money from their state's government Many times, housing is an issue and students can't afford off-campus housing
Even less expensive if you live in that state

Private Colleges
Average Tuition: $27,293
Pros Cons
More financial aid offered Higher expenses
Smaller classes/direct interaction with professors More likely to graduate in debt
Prestige Most don't have the "network effects" that Ivy Leagues have
More likely to be need-blind and/or offer 100% need met Do not receive government funding

Source: New York Times, December 13, 2006.
For the full article, check it out here.
Source: CollegeBoard, 2011.
For the full article, check it out here.