5 Ways a Public University Can Help You Save Money

Looking for ways to cut your college costs? A public university education often comes with the same name-brand recognition of a private school, but without the price tag.

As you narrow down the list of colleges to which you’ll apply, there’s one question that you’ll most likely face at some point: public or private? It’s an age-old debate and there’s no simple answer. Both public and private colleges and universities have their own unique pros and cons. But for many students, it all comes down to money. Though financial aid and scholarships can help make private colleges more affordable, many, if not most, public institutions are going to be inherently easier on your wallet.

If you’re trying to decide whether a public or private school is right for you—and if college costs are a concern—take a look at five of the top ways attending a public university can help you save money.

1. In-state tuition

If you attend a public university in your home state, you’ll pay in-state tuition, which is generally far less expensive than both out-of-state tuition and private college tuition. Some state schools also have scholarships and grants specifically for state residents, which can further reduce your costs.

Out-of-state tuition can sometimes be twice or even three times as high as in-state tuition, but if you’re interested in a public university in another state, there are some tuition exchange programs through which you may be able to receive a reduced tuition rate. These agreements include the New England Regional Student Program, the Midwest Student Exchange Program, the Academic Common Market, and the Western Undergraduate Exchange.

2. Lessen your need for private loans

If you’re applying for financial aid, the federal aid you receive may go farther at a public university.  If your federal aid (combined with any scholarships you’ve received) doesn’t cover all of your costs at a private college, you may end up having to take out private loans, which usually come with a much higher interest rate than federal loans and will take you that much longer to pay off as a result.

3. Prestige without the private price tag

If you think you need a diploma from a private college to impress future employers and colleagues, think again. There are many public universities that are just as, if not more, prestigious than their private counterparts—and best of all, you’ll end up paying a fraction of the tuition. For example, the University of California, Santa Barbara and Pepperdine University are both very selective, with UC Santa Barbara reporting an acceptance rate of 39% and Pepperdine reporting an acceptance rate of 37%. But in-state tuition at UC Santa Barbara is $12,192, while tuition for all students at Pepperdine is $46,440.

Of course, if you truly have your sights set on a particular private college, tuition alone shouldn’t nudge you toward forfeiting your dream (and it must be noted that 83% of students’ need is met at UC Santa Barbara and 80% of students’ need is met at Pepperdine). But it may be worth exploring some of the public universities where you could get an equally excellent education without breaking the bank.

4. The potential to live at home

Yes, yes, we know: moving out and living on your own is probably one of the things about college you’re looking forward to most. But if you’re really looking for ways to save money and there’s a public university within driving distance of your parents’ house, it’s worth considering spending at least a few semesters at home. Provided that the school doesn’t have a residency requirement (some schools require students to live on campus), living at home for your first year or two of college could save you thousands of dollars. Plus, you’ll be close enough to school to get in on all the campus activities you want and still be home in time for Mom’s meatloaf!

5. Transfer later on

If you have your heart set on a private college but the cost of attendance feels overwhelming, you don’t have to give up on your dream. Starting out at a public university and transferring to a different school after a few semesters is an excellent way to save money without sacrificing your goals. Just be sure you’re aware of both schools’ transfer policies from the start, and do your best to take courses that are certain to transfer when the time comes.

Are you weighing the pros and cons of public and private colleges and universities? What factors do you think will play into your final decision? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
financial aid public ivies transfer tuition tuition exchanges

About CollegeXpress

CollegeXpress

Welcome to CollegeXpress, your one-stop college shop! We’re a free college planning website used by millions of college-bound students, parents, and counselors—anyone who needs help navigating the college search and application process, financial aid opportunities, and more. You’ll find comprehensive College Search and Scholarship Search tools, tons of articles and expert advice, unique college lists and rankings, and lots of other resources to help make your life easier. Teen Vogue even named us one of the 7 Best College Search Websites! But current college students and recent grads also love CollegeXpress for our Grad School Search tool and endless information on student life, internships, and beyond. We really have something for everyone, no matter where you are on your college journey. 😊

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Aaliyah

Aaliyah

High School Class of 2022

My mother signed me up for a couple of scholarship contests through CollegeXpress. I was also able to do some research and compare the different schools on my list. I was able to see the graduation rates and different programs that helped me decide on Adelphi University. I will continue looking for some scholarships for my start in September.

Dani York

Dani York

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped in my journey by comparing multiple colleges for my final decision. While looking at different colleges, I was able to compare the tuition expenses and that landed me with the college that I’m currently enrolled in, Western Kentucky University. Thank you!

Emilie Delgado

Emilie Delgado

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2013

CollegeXpress has tremendously helped me in my search for financial aid opportunities as I enter my college career. It is easy to navigate and quickly narrowed down scholarships that I could apply for. Being awarded the scholarship will greatly help me in my finances regarding books and tuition. Thank you for this opportunity. Without CollegeXpress, it would have been more difficult to apply. I would recommend this site to everyone!

Tariq Adam Khatib

Tariq Adam Khatib

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me a lot. I am a Tanzania boy who finished my high school studies in Tanzania. I never knew I could get an opportunity to get a scholarship to study abroad. I am happy that now I know how to find the school to study abroad through CollegeXpress.

Farrah Macci

Farrah Macci

High School Class of 2016

CollegeXpress has helped me in many ways. For one, online searches are more organized and refined by filtering scholarships through by my personal and academic interests. Due to this, it has made searching for colleges and scholarships significantly less stressful. As a student, life can already get stressful pretty quickly. For me, it’s been helpful to utilize CollegeXpress since it keeps all of my searches and likes together, so I don’t have to branch out on multiple websites just to explore scholarship options.

College Matches