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By Lindsay Field Penticuff
When considering college and university options, parents and students often avoid looking at private institutions because they tend to think that it may cost more than a public college or university. The truth is that’s not actually the case. Here, we look at some of the most prominent private institutions in the metro Atlanta area and what you can expect when it comes to costs and benefits.
On the Money
“Private colleges are not always more expensive,” observes Whitney Lewis, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven. “We recently joined the likes of Rice University and Vanderbilt University in being named a Fiske ‘Best Buy’ institution for the fifth consecutive year.” In fact, at Oglethorpe, which serves about 1,450 students and includes top programs like business, communications and biology, 99 percent of students receive extensive merit scholarships and financial aid, and, for many families, the cost of attending Oglethorpe is comparable to that of a state institution.
It’s similar situation at Morehouse College, which is the only private, all-male Historically Back College and University (HBCU) in the country. “Morehouse College offers more than 25 institutional scholarships that cover the full cost of attendance, in addition to several merit and need-based aid that can significantly defray the cost of tuition,” shares T.J. Snowden, EdD, Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Morehouse. Located in Atlanta, Morehouse tuition and fees are upward of $25,000 a year, and room and board costs about $13,000 a year; however, Snowden says more than 80 percent of the school’s students receive financial aid.
If you aren’t sure where to look for financial support, or if you are curious what tuition, room and board may actually cost, many private institutions across the country utilize a net price calculator. “It’s an online form in which a parent or student can plug in information about his or her family and then get an estimate of what that net cost would be,” explains John Latting, PhD, Dean of Admission at Emory University. “For some families, that cost could come down a lot, and it could even be below public colleges and universities.” Emory, which serves about 7,000 undergrad students, also offers a second calculator to families. Latting continues, “We are part of a large consortium of private colleges and universities that’s offering this simplified calculator that takes two minutes to fill out: MyinTuition.org. It can help show that there is a difference in the full, published cost and the net cost of what students would actually pay.”
Beyond the Cost
Needs-based assistance and lower tuition costs aren’t the only benefits of attending a private college or university in metro Atlanta. For instance, at Marietta-based Life University, an institution recognized globally for its chiropractic program, smaller class sizes, research opportunities, work study opportunities and student assistant programs are just a few of the many reasons why students and parents choose the school.
“Life University has a very low student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1, with 64 percent of our faculty serving full-time,” says Tim Gross, PhD, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. “This allows students to engage with faculty and build a rapport that continues throughout their time at Life and well into their careers.” Faculty also serve as mentors to Life students, guiding them through career and graduate school choices and helping students discover what it is they enjoy and are best suited for to be successful. “The sense of community that students find at private schools provides them with a secure environment to explore their talents, while also supporting students who find themselves challenged by specific coursework or are undecided regarding the direction of their career,” Gross adds.
Morehouse also boasts small class sizes, with a 14:1 student-to-teacher ratio, and 85 percent of all credit hours are taught by full-time faculty, with more than half of the faculty and instructors possessing the highest academic degree possible in their particular field of study. And while class sizes and campuses may be smaller at many private colleges and universities, the institutions in Atlanta are fortunate to be located in one of the top metropolitan locales in the country.
“Students at Oglethorpe truly get the best of both worlds—the support and beauty of a small, safe campus and the dynamic opportunities of an international city,” Lewis shares. “From internships and research to concerts and art museums, students take advantage of all Atlanta has to offer. Oglethorpe is also one of the most diverse institutions in Atlanta, serving students from all different identities and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.”
So, whether you’re looking for smaller class sizes, scholarship opportunities or lower tuition costs, private colleges and universities across metro Atlanta should definitely be on your radar. “An American high school student has more choices than ever before,” Latting concludes. “There’s so much quality and a diversity of options, and private colleges occupy a lot of that range of choice. They can offer an opportunity to find some place that is special to you, in terms of its mission or history.”
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