Wednesday Weekly Reader: Tuition Trends Edition

I must admit, I’m paying attention — or as much attention as I can given the list of people, tasks and topics I try to pay attention to — and it’s difficult to make sense of the current college pricing trends.

For this week’s Weekly Reader (recent news from the college search / admissions / finance front), let’s take a look at tuition news.

1.  First we hear from the venerable Cooper Union that they may charge tuition for the first time ever. The New York Times reports on it here. Founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper with the mission of making education available to all and offering highly-regarded programs in engineering, architecture and art, the school is one of the country’s most selective and has been tuition-free since 1902. [Before that, students were offered the option of paying tuition.]

A follow-up story questions school management, including selling off assets and investing borrowed money.

2.  Here’s an overview of Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid, from a CollegeBoard report, outlined on the NACAC Admitted blog.

These trends illustrate the challenges policymakers face in improving college access and affordability. Institutions will be pressured to either continue raising tuition and fees or reduce expenditures, especially if state appropriations continue to decline.

3.  Then we read that the University of Charleston (WV) has cut tuition by 22%.

Beginning in the fall 2012 semester, no undergraduate student at the University of Charleston will pay more than $19,500 in annual tuition and fees. That’s a 22 percent drop — or decrease of $5,500 — from this year’s cost of $25,000.

“We’re going to do this because for too long, college was out of reach for middle-class families,” UC President Edwin Welch said Wednesday. “We are taking bold steps to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of students.”

4.  College representatives, during discussions at the CollegeBoard Forum, talk about the purpose of merit aid and whether it can be negotiated or not (purpose: shaping the Freshman class; negotiable: yes, no, and maybe). This was covered by both the New York Times Choice blog and the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Head Count blog. This link and quote is from Head Count.

When families ask, Mr. Thornton might tell them that only a tiny sliver of Chapel Hill’s students receive merit aid. He might even explain that it’s not his job, as a university administrator, to provide the means for a relatively well-off family to send their child to his or her dream school instead of a more-affordable choice. Some parents tell him that they have always given their children everything they want, Mr. Thornton said. But that doesn’t mean the university is going to subsidize it.

5.  Although more and more colleges seek students and parents who will pay the full price. EdWeek’s College Bound blog reports More Students Looking to Out-of-State Colleges Eager for Their Tuituon.

Public universities are in “an all-out war for out-of-state students,” according to the Chronicle. “Deep cuts in support are driving the search for revenue, and in many states, a stagnating pool of local applications has pushed colleges to recruit broadly.”

As the NYT Choice blog quoted the same source article (Chronicle of Higher Ed):

As the traditional borders on the enrollment map continue to erode, some observers have likened recruitment to an interstate game of swap. Randy Hodgins, the former chief lobbyist for the University of Washington, said he once told a joke to his counterpart at the University of California that has more than a grain of truth.

‘The answer to both of our budget problems is, I take your kids and you take mine, and then they’re both nonresidents,’ Mr. Hodgins said.

6.  Yet some colleges are offering deals to out-of-state students. EdWeek’s College Bound mentions that here.

U.S. News and World Report identified public colleges that have affordable tuition for out-of-state students and ones that are willing to waive fees to attract students from other parts of the country. Some schools offering incentives or lower tuition for out-of-stater students are in areas eager to boost their student body, such as Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and eastern Oregon. Others near state borders offer price breaks for neighboring state residents.

Some states, such as California and Pennsylvania offer low tuition rates for local students (under $20,000), and scholarships are available.

7.  Yielding predictable responses from students and their families:  Bargain Hunters Focus on Public Colleges.

Dan Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities says that the increasing popularity of public universities is “putting a lot of strain on the system, with severe capacity issues and funding declines in many states. In California, for instance, they’re capping freshman enrollments, and turning hundreds of thousands of students away from community colleges.”

Anyone care to make sense of all this? I welcome your comments, below.


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Filed under Paying for College

3 responses to “Wednesday Weekly Reader: Tuition Trends Edition

  1. It’s like purchasing a car or a house–the market and consumer demand dictates the price. Confusing? You bet!

  2. Pingback: GOP Candidates Distort Truth on In-State Tuition for Unauthorized Students | The Prince Firm, LLC

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