Colleges, pressured by buyer resistance, cut tuition
It's working. Buyer resistance is paying off in that bastion of sacrosanct inflation — higher education.
Hundreds of colleges are substantially “discounting” what they charge to get a diploma. It's not a flood yet, but clearly a thaw.
Apparently the realities of the marketplace cannot be kept off campus. A national dilemma is in the mix. We are turning out millions of book-trained young people into a mediocre job market under $1 trillion in aggregate debt.
Give a sigh for their parents, too. Baby boomers who might have saved more for retirement mortgaged it to put Junior and Sis through college.
So families are digging in.
In answer to tuitions that have chronically risen twice as fast as inflation, they're increasingly responding, “We'll shop.” (And your really nonconforming kids are putting off, or forgetting about, college in favor of military service or blue-collar high wages in the oil and gas boom.)
The temples of higher learning are forced to react.
Hence the average “tuition discount rate” for incoming freshmen last fall hit an all-time high — 45 percent off the sticker price via grants and scholarships.
This according to a new survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
The price cutting could accelerate this fall, The Wall Street Journal reports. Thank a pullback in early commitments from high school seniors to colleges not in the very top tier (not the Harvards, Yales and Stanfords, in other words). Early signs point to a 10 to 20 percent shortfall from second-tier college enrollment targets.
“It's a buyer's market,” a consultant summed up the situation at anything below the crème de la crème campuses, which always enjoy bumper crops of applications. About one in eight U.S. college students go to a private, nonprofit college such as those covered in the NACUBO survey. There are hundreds across the land.
Nearly two out of three of those schools increased their discounts last fall, even as enrollment fell at 46 percent of them. It wasn't a reaction to price alone. The pool of graduating high school seniors is a trifle smaller.
Meanwhile at public universities, too, tuition and fees jumped 4.8 percent on average this year.
There's hardly any state that's not under budget pressure to trim taxpayer support of higher education. Politicians typically compensate by yelling at the colleges not to raise tuitions.
Total higher education prices of $50,000 a year and up are far from unheard of nowadays. Lots of luck to the kids who'd “work their way through college,” an American tradition.
But it's a complex picture. Grants from government and corporations help fill the till at “research universities.” And scholarships make possible a free education to students of ethnicities that will buttress “diversity” on a given campus. At the prestigious University of California at Berkeley, 40 percent of students attend free.
Meanwhile, the paying students pay more. Ivy Leaguers no doubt feel the tab is worth it to mix with “the best” and get a shot at jobs in top-rated law firms, banks and corporations.
But down in the ranks of the merely good (perhaps excellent) schools, market forces work. It's a trend to be applauded.
Jack Markowitz is a Thursday columnist for Trib Total Media. Email him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Heroin, marijuana found in car, driver arrested
- Pittsburgh Police looking for dark blue BMW that hit cyclist in East Liberty
- Pirates send Decker to Indy to clear roster space for Morse
- City Council approves ordinance requiring paid sick leave
- Actress Dushku displaced from Pittsburgh hotel by One Direction
- Wolf nominates retired trooper as state police commissioner
- Broken water main creates sinkhole that swallows truck in Overbrook
- Mother of Pittsburgh shooting victim does not accept apology at sentencing
- Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
- Couple jailed after domestic assault in Gilpin
- Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary