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Myths About Private Higher Education

There are a lot of myths about private colleges. We encourage you to take a few minutes to learn how private colleges like The College of Idaho offer a great education at an affordable cost.

Myth 1: Private colleges aren't affordable

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, the average annual cost for a College of Idaho education is $18,541, which is only slightly higher than the national median and less than almost every regional private college or university. In fact, it's even within $3,000 of about half the regional public colleges and universities.

Additionally, 64% of full-time College of Idaho students receive their bachelor’s degree within 6 years, a significantly higher graduation rate than most public institutions, and higher than any other public or private institution in Idaho. Because College of Idaho students graduate faster than their peers in Idaho they are more likely to avoid extra years of tuition and begin their careers earlier.

Myth 2: Federal student aid drives up college costs

The College of Idaho is a less expensive option when comparing net price to other private colleges in the Northwest. The cost of education at the College has remained relatively stable in recent years, with two consecutive years of 3% tuition increases, whereas Idaho’s four-year public schools have experienced annual increases between 4% and 8.4%.

Myth 3: Private colleges enroll only white, wealthy, traditional students

The College of Idaho believes diversity is critical to educating students on a global stage. We actively work to recruit students from all backgrounds to promote dialogue and learning between cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds.

  • More than 10% of students at the College are international, representing over 70 countries.
  • Approximately 20% of students are Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American, American Indian, or multi-ethnic.
  • More than 30% of the students are first-generation college students.
  • We recently established an endowed chair in Judaic Studies, the first such chair in the Intermountain West. The work of the chair includes promoting greater interfaith dialogue and understanding.

Myth 4: Many college graduates leave with $100,000 in debt

The average total indebtedness of a College of Idaho graduate is $24,939, virtually the same as for graduates of Idaho’s public colleges and universities. The loan default rate of C of I students is 3.2%, compared to the national default rate of 13.4%. That means College of Idaho students have comparable debt but are able to pay it off more easily.

Myth 5: A college degree is no longer a good investment

  • Graduates of the College include seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars, three governors, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, an Academy Award-winning composer, the co-discoverer of Vitamin B12 and the co-founder of Patagonia Outerwear.
  • In 2010, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher earned an average of more than $78,000 per year. Workers with an associate's degree earned approximately $49,000 per year. Those without a high school diploma averaged approximately $29,000 per year.
  • The unemployment rate for people with at least a bachelor’s degree is just 3.7% (January 2013). This compares to the national unemployment rate of 7.9 percent and an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent for people with just a high school degree.

Myth 6: Fewer students are choosing to attend private colleges

Enrollment at The College of Idaho has increased from fewer than 700 students in 2005 to over 900 today. We set our highest enrollment record just a few years ago with over 1,050 students.

Myth 7: Private colleges aren't innovative or flexible

  • The College of Idaho launched its innovative PEAK curriculum in 2009. Through PEAK each student earns a major and three minors spread across four different knowledge “Peaks” — the humanities and fine arts, social sciences and history, natural sciences and mathematics, and a professional field. By combining a liberal arts education with a specialization in multiple fields College students gain the knowledge and adaptability to succeed in a constantly changing world.
  • Our outdoor education program provides students with access to Idaho’s world-class outdoor activities while also encouraging the development of friendships and a love for the natural world.
  • We've partnered with multiple other teams, universities, and federal agencies on new scientific research in fields from radio astronomy to environmental biology to human health. Our students also have access to world-class musicians and artists who not only perform but teach.

Myth 8: Private colleges aren't transparent or accountable

  • The College of Idaho is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and provides data regarding student success, academic resources and student satisfaction to third parties such as the U.S. Department of Education.
  • The College is ranked No. 7 in U.S. News & World Report's rankings of the "Best National Liberal Arts Colleges" among Pacific Northwest institutions, and No. 1 among Idaho's colleges and universities in Forbes list of "America's Top Colleges.” In Princeton Review’s publication “America's Best 377 Colleges,” College of Idaho professors are rated by students as being more interesting and accessible than professors at institutions such as Harvard, UCLA, and NYU.
  • As a 501(c)3 non-profit our finances are subject to additional scrutiny. An annual audit and internal controls ensure that everyone is held accountable to our charitable mission.