Private Colleges Innovate to Combat Sticker Shock
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In this season of giving, students and families are receiving welcome news from private colleges across the nation, which could save them thousands of dollars a year in college costs. New initiatives unveiled this week by Harvard, Cal Tech, Pomona, Swarthmore, and Duke will replace loans with grants in student aid packages. Harvard also will cap expected family contributions at zero to 10 percent of listed tuition for families earning up to $180,000 a year. California Lutheran University announced that it will begin matching the public college tuition for students who are also admitted to the University of California, Los Angeles, or University of California, Santa Barbara. Yale is expected to announce major changes to its aid policies in January. [The NAICU web site has a complete rundown of schools that have eliminated loans and made other significant changes to their need-analysis formulas since Princeton started doing away with loans in 1998. Other types of affordability and cost-cutting initiatives also are listed. Go to www.naicu.edu/affordabilityinitiatives.] This flurry of activity is described by higher education experts as a major acceleration in what has become a growing trend in recent years. Consumer concern about rising tuitions, exacerbated by family incomes that have steadily lost ground to the Consumer Price Index over the past decade, is the force behind colleges' efforts, according to David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. "The marketplace is telling us that it's time to act even more aggressively on affordability, and we are," Warren said. "Institutions across the board will continue to accelerate their efforts to enhance access and affordability, within their financial means, and to better control their operating costs." Families worried about sinking deeper into debt or dipping into retirement savings to cover tuition at a school without a large endowment--and such colleges make up a significant majority of the nation's private institutions--should note that other affordability strategies are emerging on campuses around the nation. These include, but aren't limited to, tuition cuts and freezes; tuition that's guaranteed not to increase while a student is enrolled; accelerated degree programs that let a student earn a four-year degree in three years, saving on tuition; colleges that pick up the interest on loans taken out by parents; and even some private institutions that charge no tuition. Berea College, a "work college" in Kentucky, for instance, hasn't charged tuition since 1892. NAICU's web site (www.naicu.edu/affordabilityinitiatives) gives succinct institutional examples organized by type of strategy. They include: -- Reducing loans with grants, and changing need-analysis formulas -- Tuition cuts, freezes, and guarantees -- Tuition and student aid matches -- Eliminating loan interest -- Partnerships with community colleges and high schools -- Accelerated degree programs -- Four-year graduation and job guarantees -- Work colleges The site also lists examples of colleges that are changing the way they do business to enhance operating efficiency and cut the costs associated with educating a student, while maintaining academic quality. Strategies include: -- Outsourcing and administrative streamlining -- Integration of information technology -- Employee cost-cutting incentives -- Going green -- Student employment initiatives -- Consortial arrangements at the metropolitan, regional, state, and national levels -- Increasing non-tuition revenue streams "Every private college president in the nation understands the financial challenges many students and families face," Warren said. "Staying affordable and accessible is at the center of their institutions' missions. I am confident they will succeed." NAICU serves as the unified national voice of independent higher education. With nearly 1,000 member institutions and associations nationwide, NAICU reflects the diversity of private, nonprofit higher education in the United States. NAICU members enroll 85 percent of all students attending private institutions. They include traditional liberal arts colleges, major research universities, church- and faith-related institutions, historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, single-sex colleges, art institutions, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions. SOURCE National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities Tony Pals of National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, office: +1-202-739-0474, cell: +1-202-288-9333, firstname.lastname@example.org
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