Private vs Public college

Private colleges are the ones which does not fall under the ownership of government and whose main focus is to make profits. Public colleges on the other hand, are the ones that come under government ownership and their focus is not to make profits.

Updated by Arpit Sachdeva on 27th December 2019

If you are reading this blog, then you are mostly on the verge of choosing a college and not sure whether to go for a public college or a private one. This problem is faced by a majority of students, so don’t worry. 

In this education system, the main source of disbursing degrees to college hopefuls is the Public and Private University. 
Public or private

One can relate to the above image. Post-secondary education has become essential to compete for a job, there is still a debate that which college is better- Public or Private.  

There’re no certain answers to this question, both have their pros and cons. It basically depends on what a person is looking at a college.  

We’ve outlined some of the common factors to consider within each type of school to help you determine which type of school may be right for you. So let’s start off with some simple terms. 

What is Private College?

A private college is an independent school which is owned by individual personalities, has its own set rules and regulations (even independent examination rules), and is privately funded. 

Private colleges rely on tuition, fees, and gifts to raise money. These colleges are not operated by the government. 

Private Colleges can be divided into -

Private Not-For-Profit Colleges

A Private Not-For-Profit college is an institution that is run or owned by a private sector but they don’t strive for money making.  

They are funded by endowments and donations. The main focus of these colleges is to help students complete their college degree as a launch pad for career success.  
Not money oriented 

Some examples of Not-for-profit colleges are listed below: 


Hiram College 

AMES Christian University 

The Baptist College of Florida 

University Of people 

Private For-Profit Colleges 

A For-Profit College is essentially a business. The college is in the business of providing a service, which in this case is the education for college students.   

These colleges are launched and managed by owners and shareholders who are looking to make a profit from their business venture. 

Some examples of for-profit colleges are listed below: 


Penn Foster College 

Steven Henagar College 

Ashworth College 

CNI college 

What is Public College? 

A public college is a college that is publicly owned or receives significant public funding through a national or subnational government, as opposed to a private university   

Public colleges are less costly compared to private colleges and are handled by the government-appointed board members or trustees. 


Some examples of public colleges are listed below: 


University of Central Florida 

Arizona State University 

Ohio State University 

Texas A&M University 

What’s the Difference - Public Vs. Private colleges

Tuition Fees  

This is probably the biggest difference between private and public colleges.. Public colleges are generally funded by the government. The government usually pays the cost of operating in public colleges. Therefore, Tuition fees are relatively less as compared to Private colleges  

Public colleges are even looked after by government-appointed board members or trustees.   

Whereas, private colleges have to look after their own costs and spending as they are set up by individual businessmen or other people. They rely heavily on tuition fees and private contributions so their fees are higher. 

tuition fee 

Class Size   

In the case of Public college, the class size will be larger (sometimes in hundreds). A student will find it difficult to get any one-on-one time with their professors.  

However, in Private college, class sizes will be much smaller. There will be more opportunities to become engaged in in-depth discussions with their professors, and they will get to know most of their fellow students extremely well 
Class size 

Degrees offered 

Students who want a wide choice of majors can find them at public universities. In a single large public university, undergraduates will be enrolled in academic programs ranging from traditional liberal arts to highly specialized technical fields. 

Private colleges offer a smaller range of majors but often have a particular academic focus. Some private colleges may emphasize the liberal arts or the fine arts, for instance, while others focus on engineering and computer science.  

Quality of Education/Value 

Generally speaking, public schools can offer more for your money. Though the education received is not less than a private college, the recognition is not always there. Remember, lower tuition does not indicate a lower quality education. 

Private colleges have some of the best faculties coming and teaching that is why people have names like Yale, Harvard, Stanford, etc. stuck in their minds. The public universities fall a little short in terms of reputation compared to the private colleges. 


Work Availability 

The amount of work availability is higher in public colleges than private colleges. The university itself is likely to have more jobs for students, as well as work-study programs to assist payment of tuition.  

In the case of Private Colleges, work-study is likely available, the job selection is slim at private colleges.  

Extra-Curricular Activities 

Public colleges have a club or committee for every activity if you think of it if there’s not then you can always demand one. There’s something for everybody between Greek life, sports, student government, music groups: The list goes on. 

While in Private colleges also there are plenty of clubs involved as they like their students associated with extra-curricular but there might be smaller groups than the public colleges. 
extra-curricular activities 


Well, I hope this tells you a lot about private and public colleges. The private colleges are the ones which are mainly for individual needs and is not for a charitable sake. The public colleges are generally opened to benefit the society as a whole.  

At the end of the day, it’s wise to determine your main priorities and examines all schools you’re interested in, public and private, to see which best match what you’re looking for in your college experience.  

Your best bet is to consider both options and look into more specific factors, rather than ruling out one type of school over the other.  

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.What is Public College?

    Public institutions are colleges that operate under the ultimate control of a state or local government. Public colleges are funded by the government authorities. 

  • 2.What is Private College?

    Private colleges and universities are controlled by a board of trustees and do not receive direct funding from the state. However, students attending the institution may pay for it with public financial aid. Private colleges usually charge 2 to 4 times the tuition of public institutions. 

  • 3.Difference between public and private colleges?

    The major difference between public universities and private colleges lies in how they are funded. This affects students because funding is tied to tuition prices.

  • 4.What are the advantages of Public Colleges?

    The Benefits of Public and State Universities Lower Tuition Costs. Public universities collect a large portion of their operating funds from Federal and local State governments. Prosperous and World-renowned Facilities and Faculties. Diverse Student Body. Competitive Atmosphere.

  • 5.What are the advantages of Private Colleges?

    Advantages of Private Colleges are- Committed professors. Professors have more time to spend with their students to ensure they achieve their academic goals. Merit scholarships and other financial incentives.