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Articles: Tuition

U.S. law school enrollment has dropped by 36 percent the past three years—and some schools are freezing or reducing tuition in response.

The drop is due to both “job contraction and an overreaction to that contraction,” says Judith Areen, executive director and CEO of The Association of American Law Schools. “The projected number of jobs available is higher than law school enrollment is reflecting.”

Michigan legislators have introduced a plan that would allow in-state college-bound students to attend college for free and then, as graduates, pay a percentage of their income back. Known as a “pay it forward” model, the money paid back would go into a special fund to help other students attend college using the same plan.

Western Governors University’s 43,000 online students make for the nation’s largest all-you-can-learn program.

Adult students are treating themselves to a higher ed buffet through a handful of programs where all-you-can-learn tuition lets them move as quickly as they can toward a degree and advancement in the workforce.

Instrumental in implementing the new online payments system were  (left to right) Allison Foltz, Mike Boolukos and Melody Baker from the  information technology office.

Cash flow is as important to nonprofits as it is to corporate entities. That’s something officials at Salisbury University in Maryland had in mind when they engaged outside help several years ago to provide students with online payment gateways, tuition payment plans and electronic bills.

The steps resulted in increased efficiencies and more timely payment. But with enrollment up a third over the last decade—and no increase in accounts receivable staffing—officials knew it was time to take the next step.

The University of Wisconsin’s all-you-can-learn, competency-based flex program—designed for adult students—started in January. Students can pay $2,250 for a three-month, all-you-can-learn subscription, or just $900 to work on a single set of competencies, says Vice Chancellor Aaron Brower, the interim provost of the UW Extension School.

Tuition covers assessments and faculty mentoring, and students’ get help organizing their studies from an academic coach—a new role that combines duties of an advisor and tutor. All work is graded by University of Wisconsin faculty.

Gene Wade is CEO of University Now, parent company of Patten University.

Since last June, students at the for-profit Patten University have been able to take all-you-can-learn, competency-based programs online and at the institution’s campus in Oakland, Calif.

Undergraduate tuition is $1,316 for a four-month term or $350 for a month. Students can take as many classes as they can fit into their schedule. The average student takes three classes per term, says Gene Wade, CEO of Patten’s parent company, UniversityNow.

A high-demand winter course at Long Beach City College will cost residents $225.

California has been experimenting with charging higher tuition rates for high-demand courses offered during the winter and summer. The accompanying infographic breaks down what students are paying.

Oregon State is one of three universities to be governed by an independent board.

In a climate of declining state funding, Oregon higher ed policy leaders needed to bring in more resources while taking some of the burden off students. That’s why three of the state’s universities are breaking off from the Oregon University System. Effective July 1, Oregon State University, Portland State University and the University of Oregon will have their own boards.

Despite jarring news headlines depicting students with six-figure debt levels, the average student borrower’s debt burden is not necessarily devastating.

Among graduates in 2011 who borrowed to pay for higher education, the average loan debt at graduation was $26,600, according to the Project on Student Debt. Only 1.5 percent of borrowers owed $100,000 or more in 2007-2008, according to an analysis by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Edvisors Network.

College administrators are experimenting with cut-rate models by freezing tuition, slashing sticker prices, and rolling back tuition.

Has college tuition begun to go the way of Walmart-style pricing? College administrators are experimenting with cut-rate models by freezing tuition, slashing sticker prices, and rolling back tuition, driven to discover a way to tip the scales toward enrollment growth. So far, results are mixed. Also, the excitement of experimentation is being tempered by the uncertainty of the current college marketplace.

  • With a dramatic change in net price, ensure that enrollments will increase to certain levels. Otherwise, operating costs must be substantially reduced.
  • Identify the types of students you want and set the sticker price accordingly.
  • Diversify the revenue stream and operate more efficiently.

Being a financial aid administrator is an accident waiting to happen these days. The soaring costs for college have produced a soaring amount of applications for assistance, creating a constant stream of traffic at the Financial Aid Office. There are times when it resembles an all-day rush hour, with students and parents in a hurry to get in and get out with some part of the gold they’re convinced is hidden there.

New financial literacy programs aim to reduce student default rate. (Getty Graphics via Getty Images)

A spooky cloud of crimson smoke dramatizes the dread of overwhelming student debt in “The Red,” a short movie thriller created for SALT, the American Student Assistance financial literacy program for students and alumni.

Less dramatic but noteworthy still, college students logging onto the National Endowment for Financial Education’s CashCourse can take a “Financial Realities” quiz to test their knowledge. In the opening question, they’re asked what will have the worst impact on their finances: gourmet coffee drinks, borrowing money, or spending without a plan.

The interest in financial literacy has expanded beyond the financial office, which is where Lyssa Thaden, financial education content manager at American Student Assistance, used to focus her pitches.

“Now, at a stakeholder meeting, I’ll have someone from the financial aid office but also someone from admissions and enrollment management,” says Thaden, who consults with school sponsors of SALT, ASA’s financial literacy program. “The marketing folks show up, the residence life people show up, and even alumni.”

In the life of an institution, the chief financial officer helps drive the big narrative, but also digs down into the day-to-day. A CFO is strategist and analyst, decision-maker and inspirer, and protector and possibility-seeker all in one.