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An Advantage in Paying for College?
Some families believe that if they pay for private secondary school
their children will win more scholarships and get a free ticket to
college, making the private school a worthwhile financial
investment. This belief is not supported by the evidence. A private
school education provides many advantages, but saving money isn't one
of them. The cost of private school tuition exceeds the financial
benefit from winning more merit-based aid.
The following statistics are based on an analysis of data from the 2007-08 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) for students who enrolled full-time at a 4-year college.
So while students who attended private high schools tend to get about $1,000 more in merit-based aid (among those who receive merit-based aid), that does not justify the idea that the parents pay for private high school so the student can win scholarships to get a free ride in college. The increase in merit-based aid falls far short of college costs. The economics just don't work out in practice.
Moreover, the higher aid may have more to do with the distribution of students across public, non-profit and for-profit colleges. As the following table demonstrates, students who attended public high schools are more likely to attend public colleges, while students who attended private high schools are more likely to attend private non-profit colleges. The average college cost of attendance is higher as a result for students who attended private high schools ($28,435 versus $24,062), perhaps explaining the larger aid packages. This ultimately causes the out-of-pocket cost (cost of attendance minus grant aid) to be higher for the students who attended private high schools despite the higher merit-based grants ($22,289 vs $18,704).
"Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est" (Knowledge Itself Is Power)
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