The Benefits of In-State Public Colleges

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  • 0:03 Public Colleges
  • 1:14 Financial Benefits
  • 3:19 Other Benefits
  • 5:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

For many students, choosing where to go to college is one of the biggest decisions they will make in their lives. Watch this video to find out what some of the benefits are to in-state public colleges and how they differ from out-of-state and private colleges.

Public Colleges

Samantha is excited. She'll be going off to college next year, and she can't wait. But she's also a little scared. Deciding which college is a big decision, and she isn't sure exactly where to go. On one hand, she can go to the state university two towns over from where she lives. On the other, she could go to a public college across the country, or even go to a private college somewhere else. What should she do?

The first thing that Samantha needs to understand is the difference between public, or state, colleges and private ones. A public college, also called a state college, public university or state university, is a higher education institution partially funded by state taxes. The rest of the funding for state colleges comes mostly from tuition and alumni donations. Private universities or colleges, on the other hand, are paid for totally by student tuition and fees and alumni donations.

So, why should it matter to Samantha whether she chooses a state or private school? Let's look closer at some of the ways that going to the public university in her home state can benefit her.

Financial Benefits

So, Samantha has narrowed her search down to three schools. We'll call them In-State University, Out-of-State University, and Private College. Which should she choose?

Samantha knows that she can get a good education at all three places, so her first concern should be financial. And that's a major concern for Samantha, who is on a budget. In that regard, most in-state colleges, or public colleges that are in the person's home state, are the best bargain. Many of them offer extremely low or even free tuition to the residents of their states.

Why do they do this? Remember that public colleges are funded by state taxes. That is, the state legislature gives money to the university. As a result, all of the residents of the state are paying something to the school, as part of their regular taxes. For this reason, in-state students get a break on tuition for most public universities.

But remember that Samantha has another state-funded university on her list, Out-of-State University, which is a public college on the other side of the country. If she went there, would she get the same benefits?

Almost always, the answer to that is 'no.' Most public colleges charge out-of-state students more in tuition than in-state students. Not only that, but many public colleges offer more grants and scholarships to in-state residents. So, when comparing the financial benefits of state universities, most students will be better off staying in-state.

What about that private university on Samantha's list? Often, private colleges are even more expensive than out-of-state public universities. However, some offer financial aid packages that can make them as economical (or even more so) than out-of-state public colleges. In this way, Samantha's private college could be a better bargain than the out-of-state university.

Even so, in-state public colleges are almost always the best financial decision for students.

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