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Some private colleges are bucking the trend and lowering tuition

Posted on January 26th, 2019

While the general trend is for college costs to rise each year, some private colleges have decided to buck the trend by significantly lowering tuition costs, according to a recent CBSNews article.

Two dozen private colleges have cut tuition since 2016, according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Colleges lower prices to attract students

Many of these cost-cutting colleges are located in Upstate and Western New York, including Canisius College (23% reduction in tuition and a $2,000 reduction in residence hall rates in 2018-19), Elmira College (15% tuition reduction to $35,400 from $41,900 in 2019-20) and Utica College (42% tuition reduction in 2016-17).

elmira college cut tuition

Going against the grain of colleges raising tuition each year, Elmira College cut tuition by 15% for 2019-20. Image: Lvklock [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

Other private colleges across the country are also reducing tuition in an attempt to compete for students who otherwise would choose a public school due to its lower advertised price.

These include Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, which lowered tuition by 45% (from $44,206 to $24,500), and St. John’s College, which reduced tuition from $52,734 to $35,000 in 2019-20. The majority of students at these small liberal arts colleges already receive financial aid, so the new costs are closer to what students actually pay.

Most students already don’t pay full price

Many families get sticker shock at the high cost of private colleges without realizing that most students don’t pay that full amount. In fact, a study by Mark Kantrowitz found that only a quarter of college freshman and 38 percent of all undergraduates pay the full sticker price for their education.

His study found that students are more likely to pay full price at public colleges, Ivy League schools and the most selective colleges, while students at small private colleges are less likely to pay full price. That’s why many of these small private schools are cutting costs, allowing families to get a better sense of how much they’ll actually pay once financial aid has been applied.

Reduced private colleges prices more accurate

In short, private colleges are lowering tuition in order to present a more realistic view of what the college actually costs to help families understand that they could possibly be a more affordable option than a public college.

As David Warren, president of the NAICU tells CBS News,

We know the average tuition with room and board is about $48.500, and that the discount is as high as 50 percent at many institutions, from list to net price. Institutions are seeing tuition re-setting as a clear tool to use for the purpose of attracting students and retaining them.

As we’ve written before, a college’s published price often varies widely from what you’ll actually pay once financial aid and scholarships are taken into account (the net price).

Therefore, you shouldn’t get the published price of a college prevent you from applying. In some cases, families find that they get more generous financial aid packages from pricy private colleges, making them even more affordable than their local state school.

We help students and families find affordable colleges and get the best financial aid package possible. If you’d like personalized help figuring out how to pay for college and maximize your financial aid, contact us or give us a call at 1-888-234-3907.


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Category: College Costs

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