Public vs Private: Why Do Private Schools Offer Huge Scholarships?

private huge scholarships

You’ve applied to a variety of schools, and you’re getting their decisions. You’re realizing that the private universities are offering you huge scholarships, while public schools aren’t. Why is that? Where is all that money coming from?

Sometimes, the difference between the private and public schools’ “sticker prices” is enough to convince you to not even apply there, even as a reach school. We hear from lots of families, especially parents, who say that they can’t even entertain the price of a private education, so why bother getting hopes up?

Because of those private school scholarships, that’s why.

What’s the Difference?

Let’s start with the basics. Public schools are supported, in part, by state funds. They’re spending tax dollars, simply. As such, they can’t have some of the same structures that private institutions have, like same-sex education. State legislatures are keenly aware of what public schools charge for their education.

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Private universities don’t take money from state legislatures. They might have specific state or national grants they receive, but that’s different. So, in place of taking public funds, most private universities have spent years cultivating and investing their alumni donations, tuition funds, endowments, and other private funds. From those investments, private schools, broadly speaking, will have more scholarships available to entice students. In this day and age, with rising higher education costs, they know it’s going to take more for you to choose them.

‘On Sale’

Private colleges and universities know they’re more expensive. It’s no secret what college costs. So they’re going to basically put themselves “on sale” in the form of financial aid — scholarships and grants — from those endowment funds.

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That means, if a public university tuition is $20,000 a year, and a private tuition is $40,000, there is a good chance that private school is going to try to match or be better than the public tuition. They’re going to try and entice you with their “sale” price. Public universities may also give you scholarships and grants, but not to same extent.

And that’s why we tell students to apply to a wide variety of colleges and universities, both public and private. Those huge scholarships, at smaller private schools in particular, are out there.

In the end, gather all your acceptances together, and do the math and research on each of them. See where your best opportunities could be.

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