College Considerations. Students should consider more than just price when looking at private colleges.

Adam Gostomelsky, Section Editor

Public vs. private, the great college debate. “Why spend over $60,000 when you can go to IU for $24,000?” Often, people want to dismiss private colleges due to the cost. To be fair, in Indiana, with excellent public schools like Purdue and IU, which rank at the top in several of the most popular majors among students, chiefly engineering and business, respectively, there is a stronger than normal case to be made for someone to attend a public institution. However, that should not make you dismiss the thought of private colleges altogether.

Let’s go back to the cost – the “sticker price.” Do not be scared off by the $60,000 or higher price point because the chances you actually pay that amount are small. First off, private colleges offer much more financial aid than public schools. Take me for example; my family household income, approximately $160,000, is slightly below the mean family household income in Carmel, $176,000. Yet, according to the College Board’s Net Price Calculator, which provides financial aid estimates for students at over 200 different institutions, I’m likely to get a financial aid package of $15,000 at Northeastern University, $22,000 at Bentley University, $24,000 at Vanderbilt University and over $31,000 at Penn University. Wondering what my projected IU financial aid package at IU was? $0.

Now let’s take into account merit scholarships provided by the school. At Northeastern, I should qualify for a $30,000 merit scholarship, while at Bentley, I am in the running for a scholarship of anywhere between $15,000 and $45,000. While of course I won’t know exact figures until decisions come out, these provide a rough cost estimate. IU gave me $8,000 in merit aid, which means Northeastern’s cost is roughly the same cost as IU, and Bentley is actually cheaper, and that is before you start applying for outside scholarships. And it’s not because IU is “more prestigious” (all three are ranked among top 25 business programs), but rather private schools know they are competing with lower-cost public schools. They want the best students, and they know lessening the cost is the way to get them.

Now that the cost is out of the way, I can address the preposterous assumptions Gabby makes where private colleges don’t have “Greek life” or a good sports culture. Utter nonsense. Just in the state of Indiana, you have DePauw University, whose Greek life and party atmosphere consistently rank it in the top 20 in the country according to Princeton Review – higher than IU. And is anyone really going to stand up and say Notre Dame lacks a great athletic culture? Of course not.

Now, am I saying public schools suck? No, that’s ridiculous when IU and Purdue are among the best schools in the country, public or private. All Indiana high school students should look into going there. But there is no reason to avoid private schools, because at the end of the day, it is about you and where you feel most comfortable. Maybe you don’t like the 40,000 student campus of IU, or maybe you like being in a more urban environment, or maybe private colleges are cheaper, or maybe you just fell in love with that one school. Regardless, don’t limit your options just because of some baseless preconceived notions.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Adam Gostomelsky at [email protected]

Read – Gabby Perelmuter: Undergraduate college does not need to be expensive to be valuable.

Read – Angela Sun: Students should consider the merits of attending more expensive undergraduate colleges.