Cancel Forgot Password?

Is the Cost of Private College Worth It?

By Peterson's Staff updated on Monday, October 14, 2013

Costs versus benefits of private colleges

Attending a private college offer many benefits. Liberal arts colleges are known for their close-knit communities, smaller class sizes, personalized attention, and instructors who are focused on teaching undergraduates rather than on conducting research. Although private universities are larger, they often boast top-ranked programs in specialized fields. In addition, private colleges frequently have well-known reputations and active alumni networks that can help you get a job after graduation.

However, private colleges can be quite expensive. The average cost to attend a private college is about $26,000, and elite liberal arts colleges can run as much as $50,000 annually.

Despite all the benefits that private universities and colleges offer, are they really worth the price tag?

The return on college investment is declining
Research suggests that college graduates are earning less money than in the past. Even with this decline, the average life-time earnings for bachelor's degree holders are $2.1 million as opposed to $1.2 million for high school graduates. Clearly, a college degree is essential for achieving financial success.

In deciding whether to attend a private college, you might want to weigh the cost of your degree against your future earning power, particularly if you must take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to pay for your education.

A private college may not be out of your financial reach

The good news is that some private universities and colleges offer generous financial aid packages that can significantly reduce the costs for students, even those who come from middle- to upper-class families.

Some private colleges like Swarthmore College, a small liberal arts college, meet 100 percent of the demonstrated financial need of students by replacing loans with grants.
These schools may also offer substantial merit aid (scholarships) to some students. For instance, Whitman College, a prestigious liberal arts college, offers scholarships to at least 20 percent of its students.

An example of a private college that combined these approaches is Vanderbilt University, which replaced need-based loans with grants and scholarship assistance.

You will determine the quality of your education
Unfortunately, not every student will get accepted into a private college that has a generous financial assistance program. However, you can also choose from many top-quality public colleges and lower-priced private colleges.

Ultimately, the value of your college education will depend on you. Learning everything that you can from your courses, completing internships, volunteering, and working jobs that are related to your field will help you gain the skills you need to succeed in the professional world.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

More articles by this author
Petersons's can help you find scholarships!
  • 5 thousand scholarship providers
  • 1.5 million awards available
  • $10 billion worth of awards
Answer a few questions to get started
1What type of student are you?
2Are you currently in high school?
3Will you study full or part time?
4What type of institution?
0 Scholarships Found


Colleges you might like...

  • Type Public
  • Setting Small
  • Size 13,528 students
  • In-State $10,788
  • Out-of-State $26,444
  • Acceptance Moderately Difficult
View Full School Profile
University of Hartford
West Hartford, CT
  • Type Private
  • Setting Suburban
  • Size 5,187 students
  • In-State $32,758
  • Out-of-State $32,758
  • Acceptance Moderately Difficult
View Full School Profile
  • Type Private
  • Setting Suburban
  • Size 6,542 students
  • In-State $39,170
  • Out-of-State $39,170
  • Acceptance Moderately Difficult
View Full School Profile

Advanced Search Options

Search your needs below, and view information about the schools that meet those needs by clicking "Search."
Step 1: Select Subject Area(s)
Step 2: Select Major(s) that Interest You
Complete step 1 before selcting a major
Step 3: Select Degree Level
Search

Forgot Your Password?

To reset your password, simply enter your email address in the field below and click the Reset Password button. You will receive an email with a link and instructions to reset your password.

Check your email.

Please check your email and click on the link provided in the message to reset your password.