Private colleges plead their case

By Alex Davis |

Published 01/23 2014 05:19PM

Updated 01/27 2014 02:59PM

Update: 6:04 pm, 1/25/14, Saturday
SPRINGFIELD -- College degrees can go a long way. One group is pushing for high school students to look at private colleges instead of public. WCIA-3's Alex Davis finds out more.

Dave Tretter is president of the Federation of Independent Illinois' Colleges and Universities (FIICU).

"We're an important player in higher education."

National trends show 79% of the nation's independent school students graduate in four years compared to 49% of public school students.

"You know, the unemployment rate is half. It's about 4% for a college grad versus 8% in Illinois. So, the proof is in the pudding right there. I think it's pretty clear the immediate benefits and, then certainly, the long-term benefits, I think also are well-documented and clear."

John Comerford is president of Blackburn College in Carlinville. He's a member of the FIICU, advocating for non-profit schools saying students and parents shouldn't discount their value.

"They lead to better outcomes after graduation, and actually, there's been other surveys that say graduates of small, liberal arts colleges end up being more satisfied with their experiences than students who go to other types of institutions."

FIICU's 2014 report states private colleges and universities account for nearly $17 billion in the state's economy. Even though most people might think private schools come with hefty price tags, the group says that notion is false. In Comerford's case, Blackburn students pay just over $18,000/year, but have a chance to work jobs to pay their way.

"More students ought to be looking at private colleges because they're more affordable than you think."

Tretter agrees saying their schools offer countless benefits with affordability being just one.

"We're affordable. We're accessible. You're not going to leave college necessarily with any more debt than you would leaving a public institution in the state."

Four years of tuition at Blackburn comes to about $73,000. Four years at UI will cost students about $100,000.
Original: 5:19, 1/23/14, Thursday
SPRINGFIELD -- Choosing a college is no easy task. Some students don't even look at private schools because of the cost, but one group says they really should.

Based on the group's findings, private, non-profit institutions help students graduate faster than their public counterparts. Even further, the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities claims their schools provide high-quality education at a better value than the state's public schools.

The report also outlines how these colleges and universities provide significant economic benefit to Illinois saying their students receive more advanced degrees and diplomas in science, technology, engineering and math. These private schools educate more than 230,000 students around the state.

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