Affording Private College

When applying to colleges, many students stay away from expensive private colleges, thinking that they cannot afford them. However, many times students CAN afford private colleges because they may offer a better financial aid package than some public colleges. While this is not always the case, it's important not to exclude options simply because they charge more.

Public vs. Private Colleges

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from academic year 2011/2012 to 2012/2013, public colleges increased tuition and fees at a greater rate than private colleges.* Because of this increase, it's more important than ever to keep options open, and that includes looking at both public and private institutions.

Mary Nucciarone, the Associate Director of Financial Aid at the University of Notre Dame explains:

Realize there are lots of options and you need to keep your doors open in terms of being afraid of a cost of a particular school. Because you’re going to see that sticker price of maybe a 30,000 dollar school. What you might find out though, with financial aid scholarships and work and loan opportunities, is that you won’t pay that sticker price. And actually, a majority of students don’t pay the actual sticker price, they pay something reduced. So maybe what you find out is what looks like your most expensive option — because of financial aid — will be equal to or less than what looked like your least expensive option.

To watch the video, visit BigFuture.CollegeBoard.com.

Cost of Attendance and Filling the Financial Aid Gap

Whether at public or private schools, students often find that there's still a gap left by their financial aid package. The most common way to fill this gap is through private student loans.

Private loans give you the flexibility to take out as much money as you need—up to your total cost of attendance—and use them as you need them. Private loans can help cover tuition, rent, food, or even a computer for school. They are a versatile tool to ensure that you are 100% financially covered going into college, so that affording college doesn’t keep you up at night.

For More Information

If you are interested in discovering more about private student loans, check out our lender comparison tool and repayment calculator to gauge if a private loan loan is right for you. We also have a dedicated Financial Aid Forum that specializes in questions about student aid; we would love to hear from you and answer any questions.


*Data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2012-13 preliminary data.