Public Vs. Private College Funding

When most high schoolers think of planning their finances for college, they assume going to a private college will cost them more than a public one. While private colleges do come with a higher initial price tag than most public schools, many applicants find that they can actually get more financial support when they choose a private school.

In a new study by the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (IAICU), they found that families are more likely to find significant financial aid at Iowa’s private, nonprofit universities. President of the IAICU, Gary Steinke, says “Only families who have real financial need qualify for federal Pell grants. There are actually 4,000 more students receiving Pell grants at Iowa’s private colleges and universities than at the public universities.” He also noted that the percentage of students receiving Pell grants at Iowa private colleges is almost double that of students at the public universities.

Currently, students who qualify for federal Pell grants can also qualify for the state-funded Iowa Tuition Grant (ITG). With the maximum Pell grant for the upcoming year at $5,775 and the max ITG at $5,300, combined students can earn more than $10,000 in financial aid grants, which are not considered loans and don’t need to be repaid after graduation. For many high schoolers, this is a huge incentive to choose a private, nonprofit university.

Each year Pell grant and ITG shell out more than $110 million in grant money to students at Iowa’s private universities. These private universities also provide grants and scholarships to their students that total nearly $450 million a year. Before writing off any college due to the advertised financial costs, it’s important to dig a little deeper and get educated about the types of aid available depending on the particular institution, location, and year. You’d be surprised how much aid is out there for the students who do their financial homework.