Posts tagged ‘tuition discount’

August 18, 2014

Are you eligible for a college tuition discount?

by Grace

How do you know if a particular college is likely to offer you a discount on their tuition price?  Before you even apply, you can get an estimate by running your specific profile data through a Net Price Calculator (NPC), a tool that can be found on every college’s website.

Forbes ran a Net Price Calculation for five schools using several hypothetical scenarios.  The results show discount rates (financial aid) that would be awarded given specified parameters.

… two types of students, one from a family with an annual income of $300,000 and another from a single-earner family making a mere $12,000 a year. We tested two different academic scenarios: a supersmart kid scoring 1540 on his SAT, with a 4.0 GPA and in the top 10% of his class, and a “B” student scoring 1250 on the SAT, with a GPA of 3.0 and in the top 50% of her graduating class.


The biggest surprise is that RPI gives more financial aid to English majors than to engineering students.

As you can see all the top institutions except well-endowed Amherst offer discounts or “merit” aid. Only Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) differentiates its aid on its calculator by the student’s intended major as well as by income and ability. RPI clearly wants more poets and is willing to pay for them. President Nixon’s alma mater, Whittier College in southern California, clearly isn’t eager to attract lower-income students. In our test it offered an additional grant of only $1,334 to the low-income overachiever. Even after its ample discount, the needy student’s family still has to come up with half the cost of attendance.

This illustration is a reminder that a Net Price Calculator can help guide your college search.


Lucie Lapovsky, “What’s Your Tuition Discount?”, Forbes, 7/30/2014.

July 14, 2014

College tuition discounts continue to climb

by Grace

The college tuition discount rate – the amount of financial aid as a percentage of tuition and fees – is “again at an all-time high”.


College continue their “high tuition, high discount” policy.

Private colleges are continuing unabated their strategy of setting high sticker prices while giving most of their students steep discounts, according to the latest survey of private colleges by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

The colleges, many of which are struggling to meet enrollment goals, are taking in only 54 cents for every $1 they claim to charge in tuition.

The “high tuition, high discount” business model is often confusing to students and parents, but it’s how things are done at most private colleges: the colleges charge high prices and then offer students they want huge discounts. The discount comes in the form of need-based aid for low-income students and “merit” aid for students with characteristics that make them desirable to a college. At wealthy colleges, endowments may have actual funds to replace lost tuition revenue, but most colleges are just waiving the chance of getting more.

Is steep discounting a desperate, short-term strategy?

“If you do too high a discount, then perceptions of desperation creep in,” says Rao. People start to ask: “Are they going out of business? Is this product a dud?”

Mitchell Hamilton is an assistant professor of marketing at Loyola Marymount University. He says deep discounts are a short-term strategy at best. “When you’re looking at discounts of half off or more, or buy one get one free, those are for businesses that need immediate results,” he says. “Private universities are hoping that this is just a strategy to stay afloat until the economic situation gets better.”

Most observers seem to agree that if this trend becomes a race to the bottom, the losers will be ‘”smaller-sized, ‘no-name,’ tuition-driven schools.”‘  Top ranked colleges will continue to thrive.


Ry Rivard, “Discount Escalation”, Inside Higher Ed, July 2, 2014.

Anya Kamenetz, “How Private Colleges Are Like Cheap Sushi”, NPR Ed, July 12, 2014.

September 17, 2013

These colleges want you!

by Grace


As high school seniors are considering where to apply for college, here are some good reasons to look at a list of top schools published by Forbes.

  1. They are on the Princeton Reviews list of “Best Colleges”
  2. They offer tuition discounts to qualifying applicants.
  3. They had trouble attracting enough freshmen during the last application season.

Forbes calls them 50 Great Colleges Desperately Seeking Students.

With the “free-market pricing” integral to the college admissions process, even higher-income families may find significant tuition discounting at these colleges.

Talk to college admissions officers at these “space available” schools and you begin to get a glimpse of free-market pricing that goes on behind the scenes at private and public colleges.  The fact is, regardless of a family’s income or asset level, many colleges make deals with families, offering significant rebates to their advertised prices.

Take for example, private liberal arts-oriented Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.  The school is located in a leafy rural hamlet two hours east of Pittsburgh and has an undergraduate enrollment of around 1,500.  It’s listed in Princeton Review’s 377 Best Colleges  2013 Edition as being known for its pre-med offerings and small classes and a great theatre program.  The cost to attend Juniata per year is estimated at nearly $48,000.

However 99% of incoming undergraduates receive tuition rebates or grants from the college. If your teen has SAT scores for math and critical reading that add up to at least 1200 and has a decent GPA, you should expect out of pocket costs of no more than half the advertised amount per year, even if your annual household income is more than $200,000.

Here are some of the schools on the list:

  • New College Of Florida – Sarasota, FL
  • St. Johns College — Annapolis, MD
  • Missouri University Of Science & Technology — Rolla, MO
  • St. Johns College —Santa Fe, N
  • University of Maryland — College Park, MD
  • Lewis & Clark College — Portland, OR
  • Knox College — Galesburg, IL
  • Illinois Institute Of Technology – Chicago, IL
  • Marlboro College — Marlboro, VT
  • Beloit College — Beloit, WI

The complete detailed list has information about costs and grant aid, as well as 75th percentile SAT scores that can give an indication about the stats needed to qualify for tuition discounts.

Related:  Tuition discounting grows to all-time high at private colleges (Cost of College)

October 3, 2011

The big news is that Seton Hall’s new tuition discounts offer ‘clarity and certainty up front’

by Grace

Seton Hall University announced it will begin offering a $21,000 “blanket discount for top-flight students”.

To qualify for the discount, which would equal about two-thirds of this year’s $31,440 tuition (room, board and other fees add about $13,000 to the total annual bill), students must graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school classes and have a combined score of at least 1,200 on their math and reading SATs — but no less than 550 on either — or an ACT score of 27 or above.

The real news for me is that this new policy offers ‘clarity and certainty up front’

Even before this announcement, Seton Hall had offered and will presumably continue to offer merit scholarships, some more generous than $21,000.  However, the criteria for most of these are not so straightforward, effectively preventing an applicant from knowing up front if he will receive an a award.  This new policy should be applauded for its transparency.

To be clear, the university may have introduced this new transparency with an expectation of receiving a boost in the college ranking system.  More applicants with higher academic profiles would improve the selectivity portion of Seton Hall’s US News ranking grade, making this a win-win deal.

It appears that “stacking” is not allowed

Eighty-five percent of Seton Hall undergraduates received some financial aid this year, at a cost to the university of about $60 million. For those who would have received aid under the existing system, the savings from the discounted tuition would be less than the full $21,000.

As is typical, the university does not allow a student to “stack” merit money on top of need-based money.  This new tuition discount would simply reduce some or all need-based aid, lessening the beneficial impact for some low-income students.

For comparison purposes, here are the US News rankings.

  • Seton Hall is #132 among National Universities
  • Rutgers is #68 among National Universities

This story serves to highlight the sad fact that the approximate annual cost of attending a university ranked #132 is $50,000.  By comparison, the cost at Rutgers is about $25,000.  I know college rankings are imperfect, but still . . .

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