myUsearch blog

Honest college information — choose, apply, get into and pay for college.

Private Colleges May Be Affordable After All

June 11, 2008 By: Category: Choosing a College

Not all of us are born into a life of silver spoons and trust funds and thus, we middle-class folk only dream of attending private colleges or universities.

But that old adage of public universities being cheaper than private schools has recently been thrown out the window.


Yes, at first glance, it does seem like private institutions like the prestigious Yale or Harvard come with a higher price tag. Including room and board, one year at Harvard costs around $50 thousand while a year at Yale Law comes up around $64 thousand. Meanwhile, Michigan State’s average tuition is about $6-8,000 and Idaho State is around $2300. (Keep in mind, out-of-state students usually pay more for state schools.)

However, according to this article published by The Wall Street Journal, the prices might be closer than expected. Private colleges and universities offer more substantial bursaries and scholarships and distribute them in a greater quantity than public schools do. If a family makes under $180 thousand per year, their child can attend Harvard for a tenth of the sticker price. And for parents making less than $75 thousand a year, their child can attend Dartmouth for free.

(Keep in mind that Harvard admits about 7% of its applicants and only 1,100 students of the 16,536 that applied to Darmouth to be in the class of 2012, actually got in… So, unless you’re in the top 25% of your class, don’t bother.)

Here are some things you might want to consider when choosing between public and private colleges and universities:

  1. Consider the cost of housing as well as tuition. Look into apartments in the area and see what would be the cheaper solution.
  2. Look at other prices that factor in- health insurance, prices of books, lab fees and other costs that are sometimes not included in the base price.
  3. Think about your long-term goals and what would ultimately be important on a resumé.
  4. Consider the location and any travel costs.
  5. Most importantly, think about the program you’re most interested in. If you’re looking to be a historian, go for the school that is known for their great History classes.

In conclusion, don’t let the sticker price of your dream college turn you away. Think about your needs first and then figure out whether you can pay for it.