More Private Colleges Freezing Tuition Rates

By Catherine Groux
Posted December 31, 2012 11:00 AM

Private colleges across the country are freezing their tuition rates.
Private colleges across the country are freezing their tuition rates.
Between the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, published tuition and fees at private, nonprofit colleges rose by 3.9%. While students may initially think this is bad news, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) reports that it was the lowest rate of increase in at least four decades.

Keeping College Affordable

This low tuition increase is partially due to the fact that more private schools are freezing their costs in an effort to make earning a bachelor's degree more affordable for students and their families, The Washington Post reports. This year, at least 24 private colleges across the country froze their tuitions, while eight decided to reduce their tuition rates. According to officials from the NAICU, these figures are unprecedented and reflect colleges' desire to assist students in bleak economic times.

"Students and families are increasingly price- and value-conscious," said NAICU President David L. Warren in a press release. "Private college leaders are listening, and working hard to keep students' out-of-pocket costs as low as possible and provide the best value for the tuition dollar."

One such school that has maintained its tuition rates is Massachusetts' Mount Holyoke College. In 2012, college officials said they would freeze tuition at its fall 2011 rate of $41,456 per year, the Post reports. Then, in November, the school said this cost will be maintained next year as well. To students such as 18-year-old Lauren Seely, this came as very welcome news.

"They're making it easier for us to graduate without having tons and tons of student loans and difficulty starting real life and real jobs," Seely said.

While skeptics wonder how schools like Mount Holyoke can afford to freeze their tuition in such uncertain economic times, other higher education experts say the strategy works. By capping tuition, schools are encouraging more students to attend their institutions. In an extremely competitive college market, this approach can greatly help schools increase their appeal. 

A Call From the President

The freezing of tuition at colleges across the country has been one of President Barack Obama's priorities, as he told states and individual schools that it is their responsibility to keep higher education costs low in a January 2012 State of the Union address. Regardless of how they choose to drive down costs, the president warned schools that there would be consequences if they continue to increase tuition.

"Let me put colleges and universities on notice," Obama said. "If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down."

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