What average net tuition means and how it should affect your college choice


You wouldn’t believe the number of students and parents who assume a private college education is out of their financial reach. Actually, maybe you would. Maybe you believe this to be true as well.

Private college education can be just as affordable as – or even more affordable than— public universities. Wisconsin’s 24 private, nonprofit colleges and universities prove this every year with our average annual net tuitions.

Before we say any more about net tuition, let us clarify another point. With private colleges there is no “in-state” and “out-of-state” tuition like with state universities. There is one tuition price.

The key to affordability is financial aid and the access students at smaller colleges have to different streams of financial aid funds.

Let’s rewind a moment to define net tuition, otherwise known as net price.

What is net tuition?

Net tuition –  this can also be referred to as the ‘out-of-pocket’ cost – is a college’s published sticker price for tuition and fees minus the grants, scholarships, loans, and education tax benefits received. You will see the term “average net tuition” because each student’s net tuition is specific to that student—just like an individual’s financial aid reward is dependent on a combination of needs and aptitude. Colleges then sum every student’s net tuition and average it to reflect the type of financial aid available to its students. Comparisons are often exclusive of room and board as these costs are relatively comparable across private and public colleges.

What is the net tuition for our colleges?

The average sticker price for undergraduate tuition at Wisconsin’s nonprofit, private colleges and universities during the 2015-16 academic year was $30,920. The average freshman financial aid package was $25,420, leaving net tuition costs of just $5,500. Wisconsin Private Colleges have been at or below this level for 9 years.

No doubt some have the concern that financial aid isn’t always so fruitful—especially to those in the middle class.

Again, let’s look at the facts.

How much financial aid do our students receive?

99% of full-time, first-year undergraduates at Wisconsin’s 24 private, nonprofit colleges and universities receive financial aid. Grants make up 77% of the average financial package, meaning this portion of money is gifted and does not need to be repaid.

Paying attention to net tuition is imperative. Don’t let an initial sticker cost deter you or your students from finding and attending the best college fit. Know there is accessible financial aid to make the cost manageable. Know which questions to ask and which forms to complete. Then, know the bountiful, affordable options you have in Wisconsin.

Come to visit any of our campuses during Private College Week July 10-15, 2017.

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