Common Myths about a Private College Education 1. Myth: Tuition at a private college is too expensive, and a state school always costs less. Reality: Many students pay considerably less than the published tuition price at a private college. The difference between public and private college tuition is far less than many families assume, thanks to significant merit and need-based grants and the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG). Last year, Virginia private colleges awarded close to $400 million in grants and scholarships. 2. Myth: It’s difficult for a middle-class family to afford a private college education. Reality: Now more than ever, private colleges are protecting their financial aid budgets and enrolling students from all income levels. In fact, national studies have shown that, on average, students attending private colleges have a similar family income as those attending public colleges. In fact, in Virginia, private colleges enroll a higher percentage of federal Pell Grant recipients (typically students from families with incomes of $40,000 or less) and minority students than public colleges. 3. Myth: There will be less assistance for college from government sources. Reality: For more than 30 years, Virginia residents attending a private college in the Commonwealth have received a Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) from the state. TAG is not based on need or merit and is available for four years at the undergraduate level. The state budget passed by lawmakers earlier this year provides for a $2,600 undergraduate TAG award in 2010-11. 4. Myth: Public or private college – it doesn’t make any difference. Reality: Parents should compare the time it takes to graduate as well as overall graduation rates, class size, student/faculty ratio, and personal attention received by students. Private colleges will rank favorably. In today’s competitive marketplace, the benefits of graduating from a private liberal arts college are more valuable than ever. Students learn to think critically, analytically, and creatively and to communicate well – attributes sought by employers in all professions.