Why Choose a Private College or University in Michigan?
Michigan has over 70 private colleges and universities. These include nonprofit, for-profit, two-year, and four-year schools.
Undergraduates choose private colleges for several reasons. Many private schools offer strong financial aid packages. Private schools also generally enroll fewer students and provide a small-college feel. That often means a lower student-to-faculty ratio and smaller class sizes.
While Michigan's public colleges and universities often rank high in academic quality and offer a tuition discount for in-state learners, some students prefer to enroll at religiously affiliated private colleges or small liberal arts schools.
Prospective students weighing how to choose the right college can benefit from considering the pros and cons of private colleges and universities.
Pros and Cons of Attending a Private College or University in Michigan
Private colleges and universities generally offer smaller class sizes and smaller student populations, making it easier to connect with classmates and faculty.On average, out-of-state students pay less in tuition and fees at private four-year colleges than at the state's public institutions.Many of the state's private colleges and universities operate with a religious affiliation, which appeals to some students.
The smaller size at private colleges and universities means students have fewer course options and majors than the state's larger public institutions.Michigan residents receive a significant tuition discount at public colleges in the state. They would need a large amount of aid to make up the difference between private and public tuition rates.Michigan public colleges and universities tend to outrank the state's private institutions in national academic rankings.
Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in Michigan
What's the difference between a nonprofit vs. a for-profit college?
Nonprofit colleges reinvest their profits back into the school. The money is used to hire more faculty and add to the curriculum, among other services. For-profit colleges distribute their profits to shareholders and investors.
Some students may find benefits to for-profit colleges — for example, those seeking skills-based training. But, generally, nonprofit colleges meet higher academic standards. Graduates from nonprofit colleges also typically fare better in the job market.
Michigan has over 60 for-profit colleges, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator. Many of those offer programs that can be completed in less than two years.
Before applying to colleges in Michigan, make sure to research their nonprofit or for-profit status. The U.S Department of Education's College Scorecard lists whether colleges operate as a nonprofit or for-profit.
How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Private College or University in Michigan?
Private colleges and universities in Michigan generally cost more than the state's public institutions. On average, undergraduates paid around $29,410 in tuition and fees at Michigan's four-year private institutions in 2019-2020, according to data from NCES.
In comparison, in-state students paid around $13,320, on average, in tuition and fees at Michigan's four-year public institutions during that same academic year.
It's a common misconception that public colleges and universities are always less expensive than private schools. Out-of-state students, for example, may pay less by attending a private Michigan college than a public one. At public institutions, out-of-state tuition averaged $36,830 in 2019-2020.
Keep in mind that scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid can reduce how much you pay for your education. Private colleges and universities typically award more institutional aid than public schools. Students can also consider tuition-free colleges.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Private Colleges and Universities in Michigan
How many private colleges and universities are there in Michigan?
Michigan has over 70 private colleges and universities, which include nonprofit, for-profit, two-year, and four-year schools. The state's private colleges include small liberal arts institutions and religiously affiliated colleges.
Well-known, four-year private colleges and universities in the state include Albion College, Calvin University, Andrews University, and the University of Detroit Mercy.
In comparison, the state has over 40 two-year and four-year public colleges and universities. Michigan's biggest public universities serve more students. For example, Michigan State University enrolls around 50,000 students, while the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor enrolls around 31,000 students.
What is the most expensive private college or university in Michigan?
In Michigan, private colleges and universities charge undergraduates around $29,400 in tuition and fees, as of the 2019-2020 academic school year.
The most expensive private schools include Kalamazoo College and Albion College. Kalamazoo College charged almost $54,000 in tuition to first-year students for 2021-2022. Tuition for Albion College was around $52,600 during the same academic year.
Overall, college costs in the U.S. continue to rise. However, many students pay less than the posted tuition rate. Grants, scholarships, and institutional aid all can help lower the cost of attending a private college or university.
What is the least expensive private college or university in Michigan?
Private colleges and universities tend to charge higher tuition rates. However, the state has options that can be affordable for many students seeking a college degree at a private nonprofit institution.
Great Lakes Christian College is among the least expensive private colleges. It reported an online tuition rate of around $8,000 for the 2021-2022 academic year. You may also find less expensive private school rates at the Baker College campuses and at Davenport University.
With research, students seeking an affordable bachelor's degree can find private four-year colleges in Michigan that cost less than in-state tuition at a public institution.
Is a private college or university right for me?
Prospective undergraduates researching colleges need to consider several factors when deciding between a public or private school — cost, major options, campus culture, and academic quality.
The size and type of institution can also play a role. Some students prefer to attend smaller colleges. Private colleges and universities typically have a smaller student body and lower student-to-faculty ratio.
Students interested in a religiously affiliated institution may want to attend a private college or university.
Research colleges to find the one that fits your interests and matches your goals for your college experience.
Can I get more scholarship money at a private college or university?
Private institutions generally offer more institutional aid than public institutions. However, students at both public and private colleges can apply for scholarships to cover their costs.
Many private colleges award scholarships funded by alumni or their college endowments. Colleges use these scholarships, also known as institutional aid, to attract students.
When applying to colleges, make sure to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Colleges will then put together a package of scholarships, grants, and loans to meet the student's unmet financial need.
Prospective students should compare financial aid offers before choosing their college.