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Articles: Tuition

The cost of a college education continues to rise, despite declining consumer ability to pay for it. And with 70 percent of college students and parents agreeing that college is needed now more than ever, according to Sallie Mae’s “How America Pays for College 2012,” finding an affordable institution is key. The College Board’s annual report on “Trends in Pricing” states that the total cost of attending a four-year public university rose 6 percent in-state and, at four-year private universities, costs rose 4.4 percent in the last year.

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I recently read a story about a family whose son is struggling to pay off nearly $200,000 in medical school debt. The family plans to help pay the debt by auctioning an 84-year-old home run baseball hit by Yankee great Lou Gehrig.

As college acceptance letters began popping up in mailboxes across the country this year, incoming students were left once again with the daunting task of choosing the right school. While cost has always been a consideration, more students than ever before are now considering it as a key factor—not only in terms of which school to attend, but whether they go to college at all.

Mount Holyoke College (Mass.) announced that it will not raise tuition or room and board for the 2012-2013 academic year, holding prices at the 2011-2012 rate—and making next year the first since 1968 that Mount Holyoke has not experienced an increase in the cost of attendance.

Obama

When President Obama called for more college graduates during his 2009 State of the Union Address, higher education leaders embraced the challenge. His 2012 speech challenging colleges and universities to control tuition—and adding there would be dire funding consequences if they didn’t—was not as well received.

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.

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