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Articles: Tuition

President Barack Obama is not acting like someone whose party suffered heavy defeats in the recent midterm election. Last month he previewed America’s College Promise, an ambitious plan that could help his earlier goal of increasing the number of college graduates to become a reality.

“Put simply, I’d like to see the first two years of community college be free for everyone who is willing to work for it,” Obama said in making the announcement. “It is something we can accomplish and it’s something that will train our workforce so we can compete with anyone in the word.”

Donald Farish, president of Roger Williams University, predicts nonprofit private colleges will continue to increase both tuition and discount rates in 2015. Farish will deliver a keynote at the UBThrive conference in June.

Presidents and other thought leaders look ahead on cost, technology, learning and the other big issues in higher education.

A majority of higher ed leaders expect modest to significant increases in tuition revenue in 2015. (Click to enlarge chart)

Multiple forces are pushing institutions to change from the financial status quo. Institutions are feeling more pressure to advocate for state higher ed funding, prove their value to students and support the simplification of debt repayment. Yet some campus leaders might just be fine with the opportunities that scrutiny can bring, and in many cases, administrators are meeting those challenges.

There are few economic challenges that move the dial in America quite like the skyrocketing costs of higher ed. From early morning pundits to late night talk shows the student and family debt burden issue is clear and ever present.

In the view of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren - "Rising student-loan debt is an economic emergency…Forty million people are dealing with $1.2 trillion in outstanding student debt. It's stopping young people from buying homes, from buying cars and from starting small businesses. We need to take action."

Former Yale professor William Deresiewicz has caused some controversy with his latest book, "Excellent Sheep."

In 2008, former Yale professor William Deresiewicz's scathing essay on elite colleges and universities went viral, gaining more than 100,000 views in a matter of weeks. His book Excellent Sheep: Thinking for Yourself, Inventing Your Life, and Other Things the Ivy League Won’t Teach You continues the theme.

Paying students to explore entrepreneurial ideas: Hope College in Michigan pays students $10 an hour for up to 10 hours a week when they enroll in entrepreneurial programs offered by its Center for Faithful Leadership (CFL).

Three separate surveys suggest that students and parents give strong consideration to advertised price. (Click to enlarge)

Have net price calculators, merit scholarships and tuition discounts rendered sticker price meaningless? Not according to numerous surveys on the topic.

The findings of three separate surveys over the past two years on the topic of cost and decision to apply suggest that students and parents give strong consideration to advertised price. A 2012 studentPOLL survey, a joint venture between the College Board and Art & Science Group, reported that more than one-half of families ruled out colleges based on sticker price alone.

The number of students identifying as belonging to a community of color has doubled since Frankin & Marshall College has invested more in need-based aid and phased out merit scholarships.

Financial aid is in a state of flux, but an institution’s size and selectivity offer clues to what kind of student assistance gets prioritized.

Some public flagships and less-selective private schools are using increased merit aid to lure higher achievers from more prestigious private schools, while some highly selective colleges and universities are phasing out merit aid as they give more need-based assistance to bring lower-income students to campus.

At a time when the gulf between liberals and conservatives seems to be wider than ever, there is one topic about which they agree: the reasons for the rising cost of a college education. Why do colleges and universities keep raising tuition, asks Timothy Noah in The New Republic? Because they can. And Allysia Finley writes in the Wall Street Journal that colleges keep raising tuition because the government continues to increase subsidies to match the rising tuition.

For the first time, students are paying, on average, half or more of their tuition’s cost. (Click to enlarge graphic)

Subsidies for public higher ed institutions are the lowest in a decade—and for the first time, students are paying, on average, half or more of their tuition’s cost. Those are a few of the financial trends substantiated by a recent American Institutes for Research (AIR) study.

Driving college loan defaults down

The coming change in how student loan default rates are calculated may mean bad news for some colleges and universities.

With the new calculations, the rate at which a group of students later defaults on loan payments will increase for most institutions, and schools with a particular default rate for three consecutive years will lose the ability to give Pell Grants. That’s why many are seeing this as the ideal time to look at how default prevention services are managed.

“We include in our emails a link to a brief video that explains that we are counselors, not collectors, working on behalf of the college the borrower attended, and that we work with borrowers and their loan servicers to resolve their loan payment issues. The video invites the borrower to call us.”

—Craig P. Anderson, senior vice president, business development, USA Funds

Shirley Mullen is president of Houghton College (N.Y.).

Higher education is in the dock in 2014. The questions are flying:

Why does it cost so much? Why does it cost more each year?

Why do so many students not finish? Why can’t they get good jobs? Why is it not equally accessible to all?

Why is it not doing a better job training teachers for K12?

What do we have to show for the trillion dollars in student loan debt? Who will repay it?

Exploring the shore: Roger Williams University has found a new source of revenue in tapping its scenic waterfront campus to  expand its once tiny summer programs. (Photo: Peter Silvia)<p>

Five years after the Great Recession’s official end, higher ed endowments and fundraising are finally recovering, but there is no rising financial tide that’s lifting all boats—especially smaller ones that depend heavily on tuition.

Along with enrollment, public funding and debt, providing health care to employees will be among the top financial pressures on higher education in the coming years, say several campus administrators.