Things to Consider When Selecting a College or University

Group of kids studyingStudents who are preparing to apply for college have an overwhelming number of schools to choose from. In addition to academics, students may also consider the differences between public colleges, private for-profit colleges, and private non-profit colleges. For students on a budget, the notable difference among the three is the price tag. Accreditation can be a distinguishing factor as well.

Public Colleges Are Funded by State Governments

All states maintain public colleges and universities, which receive a large portion of their funding from state and local governments. These institutions generally offer state residents more affordable tuition than private institutions; out-of-state students typically pay much more. However, just because taxpayer money is used to support public colleges, all residents of the state do not have a right to attend. You must meet the admission requirements, which may be quite easy or just as difficult as the most-exclusive private colleges.

Non-Profit Doesn't Mean Lower Tuition Charges

A private non-profit college is unrelated to state governments and public colleges. The funds a private school receives, such as from tuition payments, aren't distributed to individuals and other investors, as they would be if the school were a for-profit business. Instead, money that private non-profit colleges earn is used to cover the salaries of professors, administrators, and all other operating expenses, with excess funds retained by the college for purposes of improvement. Since there's usually little or no financial support from state governments, tuition tends to be higher compared with public colleges.

For-Profit Schools Are Gaining in Popularity

For-profit private colleges and universities are run with the goal of earning profits that may or may not be distributed to the owners. Many for-profit colleges, however, aren't recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and cannot offer students federal financial aid packages.

Federal Protections

As long as the college you decide to enroll in is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, whether you attend a private or public college has no bearing on your eligibility for federal financial aid, such as Stafford loans and Pell grants. Both public and private schools that offer federal financial aid are subject to all federal anti-discrimination laws. As a result, college admissions committees cannot use your race or national origin, for example, as an unfavorable factor in their admissions decision.

An Education Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding the various types of colleges and universities is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. We hope you found it useful. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an education lawyer.

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