A small but growing number of private colleges are freezing tuition and rethinking policies that have driven up prices to unsustainable levels. According to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, which represents more than 950 private colleges, 15 have announced tuition freezes for the 2012-13 school year. The group includes two well-known, selective schools, Mount Holyoke College and Sewanee, the University of the South. Before the recession, such freezes were rare.
On average, tuition and fees rose by 4.6 percent this year at private colleges, though most say they have been working hard to control costs. Still, for many students, net tuition (after grants and scholarships) is significantly lower than the sticker price. In fact, average net tuition at private colleges, adjusted for inflation, actually declined by 4 percent from 2006 to 2011, according to the College Board.
Late last month, Mount Holyoke announced that it was freezing the price of attendance (tuition, room and board) at $53,000 for the 2012-13 academic year, the same amount as the current academic year.