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Articles: Tuition

Six months into the net price calculator (NPC) requirement, the experiences of many colleges and universities can be best described as “a mixed bag.” Questions or concerns that numerous schools expressed as they put together their plans for the NPC launch have not necessarily been answered: Will the phones start ringing off the hook? How accurate will comparisons be? What is the best location on our website: Should we highlight the NPC or bury it in a hard-to-find spot?

Obama at the State of the Union, 2012

President Obama put the rising cost of a college degree in the national spotlight during his State of the Union address January 24. Colleges and universities can take up the president’s challenge to keep tuition costs down by investing in programs, teaching methodologies, services, and support that are proven through a rigorous controlled study to have a positive impact on student outcomes.

There are two things Muhlenberg College (Pa.) president Randy Helm makes sure to do when he writes his annual tuition letter to parents, and both are in the first paragraph. First, he thanks parents for sending their children to the college; second, he details the following year’s tuition and fees and notes the percentage increase over the current year.

The good news: The majority of U.S. colleges and universities polled in the third annual tuition pricing survey from Moody’s Investor Service project net tuition revenue growth for fiscal year 2012. The bad news: More U.S. universities anticipate tuition revenue to drop than compared to the previous year.

Students camping out at Occupy Duke

The Occupy movement that has swept the nation—and the world—also has a home at many colleges and universities. Long associated with protests, and historically touted as the home of open discourse, American colleges and universities have had a difficult balancing act on their hands: how to promote free speech while maintaining safety on campus.

At one time, each of Connecticut’s 12 community colleges ran its own financial aid office by its own rules. Ten years later, the Connecticut Community College System has doubled the number of students. Now all 12 colleges use FAFSA alone to determine eligibility. All use the same “satisfactory academic progress” requirement for students who receive aid and those who don’t. Simplifying eligibility rules and centralizing some functions freed financial aid staffers to focus on helping students instead of pushing paper, Marc Herzog, the former chancellor, told the College Board.

Tuition Setting

"We believe it is time for someone to change the college pricing game." So says John McCardell, recently appointed vice chancellor and president of Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) in a video presentation about the institution's historic move to lower tuition and fees by 10 percent across the board.

Student Loan Default Rates on the Rise

New figures released last month by the U.S. Department of Education show a sharp increase in the rate at which student loan borrowers are defaulting at colleges and universities across the country. According to the report, “two-year cohort default rates” show that 8.8 percent of student loan borrowers who entered repayment in 2009 had defaulted by the end of 2010, up from 7 percent over 2008.

Students at Columbia College Chicago and elsewhere who choose academic programs

Here’s the harsh reality: The number of students who have debt has increased, and the amount of money that they have borrowed has gone up. These borrowers then graduate into a world with weak employment prospects. It’s a bad situation leading to higher loan default rates.

Nelnet QuikPAY

Since the College at Brockport, State University of New York, began using the QuikPAY system from Nelnet Business Solutions, the school doesn’t hear complaints about bills for student account payments being lost in the mail. And, in the first month of use, there’s been a dramatic 475 percent increase in the amount of online payments collected, according to Teresa Major, director of student accounts and accounting services.

Since the market crash of 2008, a number of private education lenders have left the marketplace. Those who have remained have not increased their lending to fill this gap and anecdotal evidence suggests that the remaining lenders have further reduced access to private education loans by tightening their credit criteria. Higher-education institutions have responded to the credit needs left unmet in the current marketplace by creating or revising their own institutional credit and payment arrangements.

financial aid

Complying with the growing and increasingly complex Title IV federal student aid regulations is an ongoing challenge for every campus that administers federal student aid. Performing a word count of student aid regulations in 2000 and 2010 reveals a 40 percent increase over that decade. A recent survey of financial aid administrators shows that increasing regulatory and compliance requirements are causing resource shortages in many financial aid offices.

The second year of the ongoing Models of Efficiency program continues to demonstrate that campus departments can be innovative and inspired when it comes to finding ways to provide superior service and maximize resources.

"We believe that improving the efficiency of administrative services yields cost savings and reputation benefits that can propel a college into the top tier of success," noted Miles Lasater, chief operations officer and cofounder of Higher One, which has sponsored the Models of Efficiency program from the start.

As another school Semester begins, administrators will be confronted with a segment of their student population that does not go on to graduate. Attrition is nothing new, of course. It happens every year, as students begin their college careers in earnest, but find, for one reason or another, that they can't continue. Perhaps the student has financial difficulties or is simply not prepared academically or emotionally for the rigors of college.

Student financial literacy has been a growing concern, not only because of the connection to persistence and retention, but also in terms of success beyond college years that includes repayment of student loans and general fiscal responsibility in adulthood. We’ve likely all heard the stories of the $82 pizza, its price inflated by a check that bounced and resulting fees from the bank and pizza parlor. It shows the need for students to understand the consequences of spending money they don’t have.

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