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Private Colleges Keep Resetting Tuition

Inside Higher Ed

Emma Whitford
November 11, 2020
Several private colleges say their high sticker prices have scared students off in the past and that newly announced tuition resets were planned long before COVID-19 struck.
A Washington State private college will cut its tuition by 25 percent next fall. In New York, a private college will cut its sticker price by more than 50 percent, as will a private college in Delaware. The list of colleges slashing price tags for the next year has grown long this fall.
Amid the pandemic, dozens of colleges have announced tuition resets, freezes or expanded scholarship programs for the upcoming academic year. The trend follows similar announcements over the spring and summer, made as colleges face increased pressure to lower prices to keep and attract students.
But some colleges say the pricing adjustments have been in the works for years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
College sticker prices have been on the rise for decades. Even during the pandemic, tuition ticked upward, though at a historically low rate, according to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing report released last month. Average private college tuition rates increased by $700 to $37,650 during the 2020-21 academic year.
For years, administrators at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., observed that prospective students and families ruled out the college based on its high tuition price.