Public Vs. Private Universities: What’s the Difference?

Read on to learn the primary differences between public vs. private universities, so you choose one aligning with your interests and scholarly and vocational goals.

Students consider numerous things when choosing a college, from location to academic quality, available courses, entrance prerequisites, campus safety, and cost. Also, they must decide whether they will attend a public or private university. Read on to learn the primary differences between public and private universities, so you choose one aligning with your interests and scholarly and vocational goals.


The most significant difference between private and public universities is ownership and funding. Local, state, and federal governments own and fund public universities, while private entities own private universities. Both public and private universities must be accredited regardless of the funding source. Distinctions like Grand Canyon University accreditation means the institution has complied with relevant requirements and policies.

Tuition Fees

Public universities have lower tuition fees because of government funding, while private universities have higher fees because tuition accounts for a considerable part of their funding. You can expect to pay $12,850 for a four-year course in a public university if you are an in-state student. The fee increases substantially at a private university, and students pay $50,770.

Admission Requirements

Since public universities have many seats available, they have a lenient and flexible selection and eligibility requirements. Private universities have fewer seats, thus more competition requiring strict eligibility and selection criteria.


When it comes to financial aid for students, private universities have the upper hand and have more discounts and financial assistance. This does not mean you cannot get scholarship opportunities in public universities. You can still benefit from financial aid at public universities.

Program Offerings

Public universities have a reputation for offering diverse and numerous programs and courses. Students have more choices for majors and minors and can pursue anything they desire. Those like the Grand Canyon University accreditation professionals approve the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Private universities, on the other hand, have fewer academic choices, making them ideal for students with specialized fields of interest.

Social Life

Apart from academic life, students consider a university’s social life so they can grow holistically. Public universities are renowned for vibrant social and party scenes and multiple student clubs and campus activities. Private universities also have a thriving social life, though not as big and frequent as public universities. Students here are more scholarly and develop a close-knit community.

The debate on whether to attend a private or public university has been around for decades. In comparison, a public university entices with affordable tuition, many programs, and vibrant social life, and a private one appeals with numerous financial aid opportunities and specialized programs. The best university depends on your academic interests, personality, and ambitions.

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