For students accepted to Seton Hall University in New Jersey, freshman year tuition at the private school could cost roughly the same as it would at one of the state's public schools, the institution recently announced.
Qualifying students who apply by December 15 for admission in the 2013-2014 school year will pay about $10,000 in annual tuition, the same rate charged to in-state students at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick. In total, the tuition savings will amount to more than $22,000, the school reports.
First debuted in October 2011, the Public Tuition Rate program is available to students from any state, as well as international students, who have scored at least a 1200 on the SAT (critical reading and math sections) or at least a 27 on the ACT.
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Students must also be in the top 10 percent of their high school class to qualify for the program; students at schools that do not report class rank are not eligible for this particular offer, says Alyssa McCloud, vice president of enrollment management at Seton Hall.
Students in the PTR program don't lock in the freshman year tuition rate for the entirety of their college careers. Each year, the PTR costs will increase proportionately with increases to Seton Hall's regular published tuition rate. Historically, tuition increases between 3 and 5 percent annually, according to McCloud.
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The PTR program highlights the importance of understanding a school's net cost, McCloud says.
"For all students, one of the misconceptions is that a private education is out of their reach," she says. "What students often find is that when they actually look at the net cost after all of the financial aid and scholarships are applied, the cost of attending a private university is much more within their reach."
Net price calculators can help students gauge the actual cost of one year at any college. Through Seton Hall's calculator, the PTR program discount will be included in qualifying students' final estimates, McCloud says. Other colleges, including Loyola University New Orleans, factor possible merit aid and scholarships into the calculations.
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A specialized offering like the Public Tuition Rate program is far from the only way to lower the costs of a college education. There are ways to get in-state tuition as a nonresident, for example, at colleges such as the University of Louisiana—Lafayette and the University of Alaska—Anchorage. Students may also want to consider regional tuition break programs, which tend to give big discounts for students who want to stay relatively local but not in their home state.