Virginia

Myth vs Fact

MYTH: Private colleges cost significantly more than public colleges.
FACT: The difference is far less than many families assume, thanks to significant institutional, merit and need-based grants and the Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG). According to a recent study by the Human Capital Research Corporation, the average price gap between a Virginia private and public college is only $4,700 (after grant aid from all sources).


MYTH: High-income families can afford private college; middle-class families cannot.
FACT: In Virginia, private colleges continue to enroll students from all income levels, including a higher percentage of federal Pell Grant recipients (typically students from families with incomes of $40,000 or less) than public colleges. Studies show that students attending private colleges, on average, have a similar family income as those attending public colleges.


MYTH: Private colleges are too expensive.
FACT: In 2011, 87% of freshmen at Virginia private colleges demonstrated financial need, with an average financial aid total of $20,463 (grants, work study and loans). Virginia residents attending an in-state private college also receive the undergraduate VTAG award ($3,100 estimated award in 2013-14). Federal tax credits and deductions can benefit some of those who do not receive grant aid.


MYTH: The college with the lowest published price is the most affordable.
FACT: Not necessarily. After taking financial aid into consideration most students pay considerably less than the published tuition at a private college. Grants from all sources and federal tax benefits reduce the price of tuition by a national average of $16,000.


MYTH: Only low income or extremely smart students receive financial aid for college.
FACT: There are many forms of financial assistance available that are not merit or need-based, including institutional grants and state grants, as well as work-study programs. According to a recent study by the Human Capital Research Corporation, institutional grants constitute the largest source of financial assistance for students attending Virginia private colleges.


MYTH: A college education isn’t worth the debt.
FACT: Today, the average debt of undergraduate students is less than the cost of a new car. Moreover, a typical college graduate with a bachelor’s degree will earn nearly 66% more than a high school graduate during a 40-year working life. Education loans are typically available at low interest rates, with post-graduation repayment plans of up to 10 years.


MYTH: Virginia 529 Plans can only be used at public institutions in Virginia.
FACT: Virginia 529 plans can be applied to the tuition at any Virginia private college. All four savings programs offered by The Virginia College Savings Plan, The Virginia Education Savings Trust (VEST), CollegeAmerica®, CollegeWealth®, and the Virginia Prepaid Education Program (VPEP) can be used at Virginia private colleges.


MYTH: Private College v. Public College – there’s really not much difference.
FACT: Parents and students should compare graduation rates, the time it takes to earn a degree, overall class size, student/faculty ratio, and the personal attention received by students. With a strong commitment to graduating students in four years or less, an average class size of only 16 students, and a 11:1 student/faculty ratio Virginia private schools rank very favorably in all categories.


MYTH: Private colleges are not diverse.
FACT: Virginia private colleges enroll a higher percentage of African American undergraduates than Virginia public institutions. They also enroll a higher percentage of Pell Grant recipients (students who receive federal need-based aid).


MYTH: Private liberal arts colleges won’t prepare me for a job.
FACT: The benefits of a private liberal arts college are more valuable than ever.  Students learn to think and communicate effectively – attributes sought by employers in all professions.


MYTH: Liberal arts colleges do not have good science programs.
FACT: Twenty-five Virginia private colleges offer undergraduate science programs.  Small private colleges offer smaller class sizes and fewer students, allowing for more hands-on learning and student/faculty interaction. In addition, most Virginia private colleges offer opportunities for undergraduate students to assist faculty with research projects.


MYTH: I cannot prepare for a Health Profession career at a private college.
FACT: Since 2000, Virginia private colleges have created 40 new health profession programs. Eighteen Virginia private colleges now offer high quality, health related degree programs.


MYTH: Private liberal arts colleges won’t prepare me for graduate school.
FACT: The best way to master any field is a combination of classroom and hands-on learning. Virginia’s private colleges promote active student participation beyond coursework, including specialized projects and undergraduate research.


MYTH: The best time to visit colleges is after admittance.
FACT: Visiting all colleges in which you are interested, before you apply, and again after you have been admitted. In person visits are the only way to ensure you’ve made the best decision. Please check out Virginia Private College Week and the Virginia Private College Visit Calendar to schedule your visits.


Which schools would you like to hear from?
Appalachian College of Pharmacy
Appalachian School of Law
Averett University
Bluefield College
Bridgewater College
Eastern Mennonite University
Emory & Henry College
Ferrum College
George Washington University - VA
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampton University
Hollins University
Jefferson College of Health Sciences
Liberty University
Lynchburg College
Mary Baldwin College
Marymount University
Randolph College
Randolph-Macon College
Roanoke College
Shenandoah University
Southern Virginia University
Sweet Briar College
University of Richmond
Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - VA
Virginia Intermont College
Virginia Union University
Virginia Wesleyan College
Washington and Lee University
Thank you!
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