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Public vs. Private Universities

Here are some key differences between public and private universities.

mom and teen daughterIf you’re starting to think about what college or university you’d like to attend once you graduate high school, one thing you may be seeing often is a school being referred to as private or public. Like public high schools, public universities are colleges that receive federal and state funding or subsidies. Private universities, again like private high schools, rely on the funding they receive from tuition (which is generally much higher than public universities) and alumni, sponsors, partners, etc.

While all higher education institutions in the United States have core requirements that they have to abide by, including core education standards, health and safety standards, and enrollment requirements, private universities are allowed much more control over their curriculum, their staff, and their students selected for admission.

Because private universities rely heavily on tuition to fund their programs, the price of admission, attendance, room and board, books, etc. are all generally much more expensive. On the flip side, private universities often have much lower student counts. So, you’re in classes with less students, making your experience much more personal and closer to your fellow students and professors.

Private universities are also allowed to have religious or moral standards or classes as part of the Code of Conduct for students. Some private universities require students to have religious class credits to graduate. Some even go as far as to have students sign paperwork where they pledge to be abstinent, refrain from alcohol, and do additional extracurricular activities. 

While the general education standards are very similar across the board of universities available in the United States, your experience will vary depending on what type of university or college you decide to attend. 

Do your research and think about what you’re looking for in a college experience – and more importantly – what it will cost and how you will pay for it.