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Take Advantage of Colleges That Are Discounting Tuition

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

graduation cap and money

This WSJ article confirms CPC’s philosophy of using data to ensure that students balance their college list for admission and financial parameters. Our takeaways:

Class of 2021 Applications - Depending on the # of Class of 2020 students that commit with tuition payment this summer vs. a COVID gap year, there may be a larger pool of students applying for the 2021 cycle.

School Type: Traditional Private College – In this article, the significant discounts mentioned were primarily private colleges that accept >50% of students. See our bucket list of quality traditional private schools that are generous with merit scholarships.

Financial Need vs. Merit – More selective schools are likely to reassess need grants vs. merit scholarships. Bill Conley, Bucknell’s VP for enrollment management states, “…those with the technical ability to pay are increasingly questioning their willingness,”

Parents should estimate their EFC now to understand if they might be eligible for need grants, based on the school’s cost of attendance. A $50,000 EFC may still allow for a grant if the selective school meets 100% of need, and the cost of attendance is $70,000. However, selective schools referenced in this article are not currently showing the discounting that the traditional smaller private colleges offer.

  • Bucknell – Waiving a 3.5% tuition increase is about $2,450 from a $70,000+ sticker price.

  • University of Miami – In this article, the discount held firm at $5,000.

Bargaining After Acceptances – If a student balances his/her list with competing schools that can be generous with need grants or merit scholarships, there is a better opportunity to use that information as leverage to receive a matching offer.

However, remember, highly selective schools retain considerable advantage and thus far have not come to the table with significant merit offers when compared to quality traditional private colleges.

Quality – Remember, the acceptance rate does not necessarily define quality. Using data to understand a school’s outcomes, investments in academic resources, student engagement, and financial strength for staying power can uncover hidden gems that use discounts to bribe students away from more well-known names. Schools such as Centre College, Allegheny College, University of Dayton, and Butler University are great examples.

Will all schools monitor enrollment yield closely, yes! However, be wary of expectations that selective schools are going to jump into the bargaining bin for all. Also, many students are understandably not excited about the prospect of a last-minute waitlist game or late spring decision.

Developing a college list with options for Plan A, B, C, etc. is the best tool not to be caught flat-footed next Spring.

Schedule a conversation to learn more about college planning strategies.

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