ERIC Number: EJ847119
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-29
Reference Count: 0
Colleges Undermine Their Value when They Put Tuition "On Sale"
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n38 pA24 May 2009
Drexel University is offering laid-off workers a 50-percent discount on tuition at its new graduate campus in California. Davis & Elkins College reduced its price by nearly $15,000 for residents from its home county and six surrounding ones to match the tuition of the state's flagship West Virginia University. And Southern Illinois University at Carbondale will now charge incoming freshmen from Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee the same in-state rate that Illinois residents pay, a price cut of about $10,000. It is tempting to dismiss these tuition-discounting strategies as the latest examples of the opportunistic come-ons so many colleges offer these days, gimmicks that institutions use, in the words of critics, to "buy their class." Tuition discounting can help colleges add to their revenues and support their mission. That is especially true if the colleges have unused capacity, as is the case at Davis & Elkins and Southern Illinois. But, according to the writer, many colleges do not do it right. Colleges can discount themselves into financial trouble. Even when the discounting doesn't create a financial hole, it can be misused. Some colleges use their presidential scholarships, dean's scholarships, and similar sorts of merit awards to lure students for whom the college may not be an optimal fit. Sometimes they do so because they think the students they nab will help them move up in the rankings. Sometimes they think the aid offer will help them draw more students who can pay the difference. Some discounts and scholarships are not really a measure of an institution's new commitment to a particular class of students but merely a repackaging of the tuition aid the college had been offering all along. Discounts can be a quick-fix response to affordability concerns, but they do not get at the expense structures that really drive costs. The author contends that colleges should compete on the merits of their programs.
Descriptors: Awards, Scholarships, Tuition, Marketing, Higher Education, Student Recruitment, Financial Problems, Incentives, Reputation, Financial Support, Paying for College, Costs, Educational Quality, Competition
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://chronicle.com/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A