Private College “Discounts” Hit Historic Highs Again

National Association of College and University Business Officers:

Average institutional tuition discount rates are rising as larger percentages of students receive grants and scholarships from their institutions, and the awards cover more of their costs. An estimated 87.9 percent of freshmen and 78.5 percent of all undergraduates received grant aid in 2016-17, covering more than half of tuition and fees, on average, for both cohorts.

More than three-quarters of all institutional grant aid was used to meet students’ financial need. Institutions with the largest endowments were most likely to give aid to financially needy students: At schools with endowments worth more than $1 billion, 90.8 percent of all grant and scholarship funds met need.

“In each of the past 12 years, private colleges and universities have increased their freshman tuition discount rate–culminating in this year’s record-high estimate of nearly 50 percent,” said Ken Redd, NACUBO director of research and policy analysis. “As the findings from the 2016 NACUBO Tuition Discounting Study suggest, many private colleges are greatly expanding their aid programs to meet the needs of more students and families, but these financial aid expenditures are contributing to a financial strain for some institutions.”

The 2016 NACUBO Tuition Discounting Study points to other trends that are putting financial pressure on some schools. Net tuition revenue from first-time, full-time students grew by an estimated average of 0.4 percent this academic year, down from 1.5 percent in 2015-16 and 2.1 percent the year before. Meanwhile, 39.1 percent of respondents reported declining enrollments in both their first-year class and total student body, up from 37.5 percent last year.