College tuition has increased over the last few decades—the average annual cost at a private school is $54,000—making it increasingly unaffordable for students. Now, some institutions are cutting back in a big way.
- While tuition prices have gone up, admissions rates have gone down. This has resulted in some private colleges taking an unusual step—cutting their price in half.
- One example is Colby-Sawyer College, a New Hampshire private institution, which saw a 10% decline in application since the pandemic.
- Next school year, the tuition will be dramatically reduced from $46,000 to $17,500—a 62% decrease.
- More private colleges are taking this route to compete with less costly state education.
- This tuition reset shows the price students will pay once they have received financial aid.
- Though changing the ticket price is a marketing move, it also symbolizes a reality check for colleges—tuition is too expensive for many students.
Why it’s news
Smaller private colleges are finding that high tuition rates are driving away potential students. More students and their parents are questioning whether or not the price of a degree is even worth it.
Some colleges like Colby-Sawyer will increase their prices to appear comparable to more elite universities. However, few students pay full price thanks to various discounts and financial aid. Colby-Sawyer’s decision to cut tuition isn’t much of an actual price drop—it’s just showing the real cost.
Nearly 20 years ago, families and students associated high-cost education with prestige and were encouraged by easily granted scholarships, The New York Times reports. Now, potential students see the price tag and turn away before they even see possible discounts.
Even some public institutions are beginning to drop prices. Vermont State University lowered its in-state tuition 15%, and out-of-state students saw a 33% decrease. Other state universities—like New York, Nebraska, and Wisconsin—have frozen their tuition, meaning the price will not change for a set amount of time.
Student loan debt has become a significant concern for Americans, with many worried that they won’t ever be able to repay it. Compensation for the jobs some graduates find doesn’t match the price paid for their degree.
Nearly 65% of students graduating with a four-year degree have student loan debt. The average debt would be $34,100 if the student attended a public college. Private university students have an average debt of $58,600, according to reports from Education Data Initiative.
In response to debt concerns, enrollment in higher education is declining. In the spring of this year, overall enrollment declined 4.1% in both graduate and undergraduate. Since spring 2020, overall student enrollment has dropped by almost 1.3 million students, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Undergraduate students predominantly drive that decline. The overall undergraduate student body is 9.4% lower than pre-pandemic numbers.