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Study Proves Affordability of Michigan Private Colleges

You’ve probably heard it a million times. Private education is elite because only the elites can afford it.

The myth doesn’t come from nowhere. On average, advertised tuition at private colleges often exceeds public ones. But that doesn’t into account massive amounts of aid that lowers actual costs and decades of recruitment efforts that make world-class education affordable to everyone.

Now, there’s a new study that proves the point yet again. Far more students from lower-income families attend Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities than wealthy ones, according to a nationwide study that tracked income and attendance records of more than 30 million students.

At schools such as Olivet College, Siena Heights University, Spring Arbor University, more than 40 percent of the student body comes from families making $65,000 or less per year.

It’s a third or more of the student body at Adrian College, Aquinas College and Andrews University; one quarter at Alma College, Madonna University, University of Detroit-Mercy and Albion College and more than 15 percent at Calvin College, Hope College and Kalamazoo College, the study found.

And the notion that it’s just Richie Riches at private schools? False again. Students from families in the top 1 percent of income ($630,000 or more) comprise a vast minority at Michigan’s private colleges – usually 1-3 percent or less.

We know that’s a lot of numbers. But the point is a world-class private education is within reach.

Students at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities receive far more financial aid, on average, than counterparts at public institutions. At most of our schools, more than 93 percent receive aid, vastly reducing advertised tuition and making it as affordable — or more so — than big state schools.

And unlike public universities, students at Michigan independents actually graduate in four years, giving them a head start on their career — and extra salary — over their public peers.

Purposefully smaller, Michigan’s private colleges offer a vastly different experience. Classes are small. Award-winning professors actually teach class — rather than TAs — get to know students and help them chart their own path to rewarding careers.

And students immediately are part of a network of alumni who are leaders in their fields. That’s because community, not crowds, are cherished.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Marygrove College bucks convention, lowers tuition

It’s that time of year again. Colleges and universities are raising tuitions.

Big state schools say they have no choice as government support continues to decrease. Five percent one year. Eight percent the next. It’s been going for so many years that the cost of higher education has increased 538 percent since 1985.

That’s why Marygrove College made headlines — and turned heads — recently when it lowered tuition for a third of its students.

You read that right. The Detroit college dropped tuition 16.5 percent for part-time students.

“The whole question of affordability and access is huge nationally and it is exponentially so for us, because we serve so many students who have a disproportionately high need,” said Marygrove’s outgoing president, David J. Fike.

It may have been a shocking move. But it’s in line with the traditions and values at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

Keeping costs down and providing ample financial aid to students is just one of many differences with big public schools.

Almost all of Marygrove’s students who maintain B averages receive financial aid. It’s a similar story at most other Michigan independents, where more than 93 percent of students receive aid. That brings the costs of a world-class college within reach — a priceless education that is affordable.

Cost is just one of many differences. So are class sizes, which are significantly smaller. And relationships between students and professors, who actually teach classes rather than delegate them to post-graduate teacher assistants.

The schools value community over crowd, allowing students to forge their own path to success. And they boast graduation rates that are superior to big public universities.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.