Birmingham-Southern College (BSC), a prestigious liberal arts college in Birmingham, Ala., recently announced that it will slash its published tuition price in half starting in the fall of 2018. The new published price of $17,650 brings tuition and mandatory fees to a level not seen in 15 years.
“Students and families are telling colleges all across the United States—and they’re telling us—that encountering a high published price is a real barrier to a high-quality education,” said Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith, the college’s president, in a statement. “We want to make sure that the best and brightest students have access to the kind of personalized, challenging, hands-on educational experience that BSC provides.”
The Problem of Pricing
While few colleges and universities are making changes as drastic as that of BSC, many are increasingly aware of the problem of tuition pricing transparency. Because of financial aid and scholarship dollars, most students do not have to pay the sticker prices listed on college and university websites.
However, research shows that simply seeing high “sticker prices” on college websites or marketing materials can be a deterrent to many potential students and their families. These posted prices often lead students to avoid applying to schools that appear to be out of their budgets.
One option may be slashing tuition prices to more closely match the “discounted rates” that most students would end up paying. However, it’s not the only solution. Other colleges and universities, along with government and nonprofit organizations, have introduced other solutions to increasing transparency about tuition prices, helping to encourage more students to apply to the colleges that interest them.
For instance, some schools are working to lock in tuition and fee rates so that incoming freshmen and their families know upfront exactly what they’ll be required to pay for the next four years. But as tuition rates (at most colleges and universities) continue to rise, there are no easy answers.
Tuition pricing transparency is a substantial challenge for potential students and their families, as well as for colleges and universities. To learn more about the issue, as well as the varied solutions that are working for some colleges and universities, download recently published e-book, “How Much Will It Really Cost to Attend Your College? Why Families Need Actual Numbers and How Some Schools Are Providing Them.”
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