Why do private universities keep increasing their tuition? Aren't they pricing themselves out of the market?

Yes, they are. If you look at the sticker price of most private colleges, they are hovering around $35,000 to $50,000 per year, including room and board. So you need a truckload of cash to send your children to one of these schools.

But families make sacrifices to send their kids to private schools. I will explain three reasons:

First, sticker price and actual price differ significantly. Ninety percent of students do not actually pay the full price. On average, they receive a 30 percent to 45 percent discount on tuition. Depending on the family's income and the student's academic merit, private colleges discount their tuition to attract students. This discounting process is similar to bargaining for a new car, except this one costs as much as two Ferraris.

Second, the actual class size for your child will be significantly smaller at a private school than at a large state university. Freshmen will be in classes of 20 to 25 students in private schools, while their friends at the local State U might be in classes with more than 700 students. Students in the back rows of the auditorium may have to wave a flag to get a professor's attention.

Third, besides a good discount and small classes, your children can graduate within four years. If they work hard in their courses and attend class, they have a 75 percent chance to graduate within four years. Comparable numbers for state universities show that fewer than 40 percent of students graduate within four years, and fewer than 50 percent within six years.

You've got it: More than half do not graduate within six years, or perhaps ever.

On StarNet: Read past "Ask the Dean" columns at azstarnet.com/education

dean's tips to reduce the cost of private-college education

1. Urge your children to look for scholarships on campus on a monthly basis. Many internal scholarships are never awarded because no one applies.

2. Get to know the director of financial aid at the college.

3. Be candid about your financial situation, and ask for advice about how to reduce the burden on your family.

4. Make sure your children get jobs on campus in an academic department. Their chances of getting additional scholarships will improve substantially.

U Must b Kidding

A student who kept missing classes asked me to call him every day at his apartment to remind him to go to class. I asked one of our advisers to do so. Two weeks later, the student disconnected his telephone.

He did not graduate from our college.

Send your questions and stories about college to Dean Ali Malekzadeh at askthedean@ gmail.com. Please include your name and hometown for possible publication. Ali Malekzadeh is a former administrator and faculty member at Arizona State University. He is the dean of the Williams College of Business at Xavier University in Cincinnati.