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Public Vs. Private College Alumni Pay Gap Smaller In Jacksonville, Flickr Creative Commons

Recently released federal data show a widening salary gap between private-college graduates and their public-school counterparts.

But in Jacksonville, both private and public colleges give students a relatively good return on investment.

Overall, the recently published college scorecard appears to reinforce the idea that students able to afford tuition at a private institution have a leg up on their peers at a public school.

But, Jacksonville University graduate Will Baxley, who attended the school on a full scholarship, says just because tuition  is more expensive doesn't mean it’s out of reach.

“Private education is available a lot more than students think that it is in high school,” Baxley says. “I think that even if some of the metrics seem to indicate that it’s not an equal opportunity for all students, I think that it’s something more students should be exploring.”

Baxley says financial assistance is available from even the most expensive private institutions.

And JU spokesman Mike Fleming adds, most of his small, liberal-arts school’s students get help to attend.

“Seventy percent of our students have some kind of financial aid. So, if we have a qualified student, we try to take every avenue we can,” Fleming says.

JU’s graduate-earnings score is better than many private schools’ around the country. It has a slightly higher-than-average tuition rate, yet its graduates earn significantly more out of the gate than most.

As for the public University of North Florida: Its tuition is lower than the national average, and a graduate’s earnings are slightly above-average.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.