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Articles: Tuition

“Parents need a thorough understanding of the costs related to college and the options for paying college expenses. The need for timely, understandable information is especially acute in households with no previous experience with the going-to-college process. Colleges often assume parents already have knowledge about budgeting for college, the cost of student loans and effective repayment strategies, so they often don’t address these issues when they provide parents with information.”

—George Covino, vice president of consulting, USA Funds

Starbucks made headlines last spring as more than just a campus hot spot when it announced a free college tuition plan for its employees. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and health insurance company Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield have now followed suit, and Starbucks has expanded its program.

While each corporation is partnering with a specific higher ed institution, the plans and stipulations vary:

Seniors line up by Sweet Briar’s library prior to commencement. (Photo: Photo by Andrew Locascio/Sweet Briar College)

While higher ed leaders acknowledge a range of challenges, many say the shutting down of the 532-student Virginia women’s college does not signal doom for small institutions, including those that are single-sex, rural or religiously affiliated.

Donald Farish, president of Roger Williams University, will deliver a keynote at the UBThrive conference in June.

People often go to college for the wrong reasons, with assumptions about how it’s going to benefit them, says Donald Farish, president of Roger Williams University. An outspoken proponent of access and affordability, Farish—who will speak at the new UBThrive program this June—says colleges and students need to be more realistic about what to expect.

College ranking systems are typically viewed as unreliable metrics, often accused of practicing favoritism based on questionable criteria that varies by publisher.

In an attempt to provide an unbiased and informed resource for prospective students and their families, the Obama administration has formulated its own version of a college ranking system.

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.