Privatizing Public Colleges & Universities


  • Privatizing undergraduate institutions has been increasing since the 1980s
  • The National Education Association has steps for privatization published
  • Privatized universities may increase with the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, and Republican-dominated administration
  • By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education beyond high school


On average, students absorb almost half of that cost. Privatization may provide more options for recent high school graduates, but some fear that privatizing higher education could create more division. Affluent families could afford more expensive schools which may lead to better jobs. A parallel can be draw to Pinochet’s regime in the 1980s, when education in Chile was completely privatized. Chile’s education system is segregated between high and low income households. Though more choices are available, lower income families are restricted to choose schools based on affordability, which may equate to a lower quality education. Could most students in the US lose quality education options if privatization takes hold?

  • Pro Private

    • Drive competition: Private institutions will force universities to bend more to what the public needs and wants
    • Cost less: Pro-private could create options at lowest possible cost, making it accessible to lower-income families
    • Better off Private: Loans should remain in private sector. Federal sponsored loans could remove incentives to reduce tuition costs
    • More choices: Pro-private seeks to diversify options for higher education without the crutch of federal funding
  • Stronger with Public

    • Change in Morals: Private funding can alter missions of universities and colleges
    • Business or School?: Private companies in exchange for educational services may employ members of their company on campuses
    • Cost effective: Loans have increased as state grants have decreased. Student loan debt can put pressure on college graduates
    • Vision for the Future: A school’s “value” could be determined by short-term monetary gain, not long-term welfare of citizens


  • DeVos has been confirmed as Secretary of Education
  • Privatization of higher education functions can be very different from state to state
  • President Trump declared Jan. 22-Jan.28 National School Choice Week


  • Cost of an education and its intangible value
  • Could this alienate lower-income families from accessing quality education or will choices benefit them?
  • Is the word “choice” just an illusion?