During the COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of colleges are worried about not only attracting enough freshmen for this fall, but also for the 2021-2022 college admission season.
Many colleges have made the calculation that it’s better to pay too much to attract a new student than to lose that prospect – and the revenue he or she generates – all together.
According to the latest annual report from the National Association of College and University Business Officer, tuition discounting among private institutions is already at an historic time high. The pandemic will surely inflate the offers even more.
I mentioned this tuition discounting phenomenon in a post that I wrote at the beginning of this pandemic. Here is the link:
A new tool to look at college offers
A natural question you might be asking yourself is how much more money you might be able to squeeze from a college. With this pandemic, we are in uncharted territory since colleges are facing an unprecedented threat to their own financial health and, for some, their very existence.
That said, what we can do is look at the sort of offers that schools have recently made to prospective students. Fortuitously, a new tool from Educate to Career, a nonprofit chock full of helpful online tools (many of them free), can provide you with recent, pre-pandemic figures.
The ETC tool that I am sharing with you can provide you with a framework for how much an individual school might offer to entice a teenager to its campus.
Here is the link to the tool:
Using the tool you’ll see that most students do not pay the full tuition price. And that’s true at nearly every private and public college and university in the nation.
Here is what the tool looks like:
To use the tuition negotiator, simply select a state, college major and college to generate aid figures for freshmen who attended the institution for the 2019-202 school year.
One thing that you’ll discover by playing around with this tool is that colleges with similar tuition prices can offer merit aid/financial aid that is significantly different. And that’s just one reason why you shouldn’t never assume that a school’s price tag means anything.
State University Examples
University of Massachusetts Amherst
You can see that the vast majority of freshmen at UMass, which is the state’s public flagship, did not pay the full tuition price for the 2019-2020 school year. Eighty-two percent received some kind of discount. The tuition and average tuition paid figures are for in-state residents only for public universities.
University of California San Diego
The University of California campus in San Diego had significantly fewer freshmen receive grants (49%). This school, like the other UC campuses, devotes its money to students with financial need and not those looking for merit scholarships.
Private College Examples
Claremont McKenna College
Something you should notice about this pair of private colleges is that the published tuition price at both Grinnell and Claremont McKenna colleges are similar. The average tuition that Grinnell freshmen actually paid, however, was nearly $10,000 less than the freshmen at the California school.
One reason for this difference is the location of each liberal arts college, which are both highly ranked. Institutions near metropolitan areas can typically charge more. Claremont McKenna is close to Los Angeles and Grinnell is in Iowa.
Here’s another difference: Grinnell needs to give an institutional discount to most of its freshmen (85%) versus just 51% of students at the California school. Once again, location is a major factor.
Easy to Use
A helpful feature of the college tuition negotiator is that you can generate statistics for up to eight colleges for a side-by-side comparison. You can print out the information as a PDF.
All the tools that you can find on Educate to Career’s website are the work of data scientists at Job Search Intelligence, which is a leading provider of information relating to educational attainment and career outcomes. Employers and recruiters use JSI’s programs to enable them to know where to recruit new hires from based on college major and region. They also use the programs to know what to pay new hires, as well as for benchmarking salaries for existing employees.
JSI uses dozens of data sources from such places as the colleges themselves, Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Federal Reserve, and National Center for Education Statistics when generating its college statistics.
For many families, the pandemic has made choosing a college more challenging than it was already. Understanding what a college may provide a student financially can help with selecting colleges and negotiating.
Especially in these times, don’t assume the first offer is the final offer.