Lower-Cost Higher Education

I don’t know how I missed in late November 2012 that Belmont Abbey College decided to reduce tuition by $9,000 for fall 2013!

You can read the press from the Charlotte Observer yourself.

What is amazing about this? The school goes from $27,000+ to $18,500! That is simply amazing. The school is at a record enrollment of 1,700 and has two new dorms opened.

“Our goal is increasing accessibility, not boosting enrollment.” — Belmont Abbey President William Thierfelder

Wouldn’t it be nice for more schools to have that mindset? After being in the higher education scene for numerous years, it’s becoming a bit ridiculous of the costs. In that Charlotte Observer article, it even states that prospective students are shied away from schools just by the sticker price — which means they don’t take into any financial aid help.

In 25 years, college tuition and fees increased by 440 percent. And you and I are paying for this. I can’t imagine what my kids will be paying for. Late last week, I read that 23-28 year olds are 25% financially poorer than their equals 20 years ago. Brings to mind a lot of troubles I’m going through — read here, if you haven’t already. How can my generation ever make it if we cannot ever pay off our student loans and educational debts? We work our whole life trying to make back what we paid out to be “qualified.”

Oh, and Belmont Abbey’s endowment is around $13 million! So, that goes to show that any school can do it. The school I am at now, has an endowment of over $20 million, enrollment of 1,100 (including all students; between 600-700 traditional undergrad), and tuition/fees at over $36,000! What makes more sense here?! Oh, and the school has closed down a dorm. It has empty halls and rooms.

Look at Belmont Abbey!

How does this not make sense to small colleges? How can you not make these moves?

Then, I remember in Spring 2012…there were a number of schools that made tremendous moves:

  1. Cabrini College (PA) — 12.5% down, $33,000+ to $29,000 (1,700 undergrad, 1,400 graduate; $12.7 million endowment)
  2. Lincoln College (IL) — 24% down, $23,000 to $17,480 (1,200+ students; $19 million endowment)
  3. University of Charleston (WV) — 22% down, $26,200 to $20,700 (1,000+ undergrad, 200+ graduate; $34 million endowment)
  4. William Peace University (NC) — 7.7% down, $25,900 to $23,900 (600 students, all-girls; $43 million endowment)
  5. Duquesne University (PA) — 50% down (for School of Education), $28,671 to $14,355 (impacts 85 to 100 undergrads per year; $181 million endowment)
  6. Seton Hall University (NJ) — 61% down for high achieving freshman, went from $31,000 to $10,104 (5,000+ undergrad, 4,500+ graduate; $231 million endowment)

These changes are simply incredible. Why can’t more do this? Why not do this?

At the same time, I look at my Alma Mater…recent publication says that the most recent year earned $4 million in alumni/generous donations. The school has been established since 1890, or 122 years (123 now, but not at the time of the most recent statistic). So, after a solid 122 years of operating…the school gets under $33,000 of donations PER CLASS! Now, I do understand that we will be missing out on numerous classes from the early institution. But still…with 400-500 undergrad and graduate students graduating every year, you’d think that you could bring in more than $60-80 per person…right?!

Nope. Not when you have people like me who are $XX,XXX in the hole. Or friends of mine that are $XXX,XXX in the hole (married couples, most likely). Why would I give? They haven’t bothered to care about me since they got my tuition money. They haven’t done anything to help me gain employment — even told me I wasn’t qualified enough to work for them! Maybe I shouldn’t mention that the school also has an endowment of nearly $33 million, and it’s at a 10-year high.

I really wish more schools would look at these models. Quit thinking your value is more than what it actually is. Quit pricing yourself so high that people can’t afford you. Actually do something to make prospective students want to come to your school.

Education is something that no one can ever take away from you. Unfortunately, it’s also becoming something that is unattainable unless you have money or are willing to be in debt for many years.




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