There are three types of universities/colleges in the US.
Public university: They are supported by state or government funds up to a large extent. The fees of the public university will be substantially lower than the private university.
Private University: They do not receive any funds from the government. They rely on tuition, endowments and private contributions. You have a better chance of getting scholarships/financial aid in the private university.
Community College: Community are primarily two-year public institutions providing higher education and lower-level tertiary education, granting certificates, diplomas, and associate’s degrees. Most community colleges in the US are designed for the transition from high school to colleges.
This page explains the difference between public and private university
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Deciding to go to public or private school normally lies on your ability to afford the difference in tuition. The perception about private vs. public universities also depends on what level of education you are talking about. For example, for a bachelor’s degree, going to a public school is just as good. The distinguish depends on location, scholarships, etc. Private schools tends to be religious as well. For graduate school, however, the general observation is private schools are ranked higher. My personal guess on that is private schools have more resources to pay for research, facilities, etc. Private schools tends to be religious as well. The most obvious example is all of the schools in the Ivy League are private and not currently associated with any religion.
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