Why some Colleges are Cutting Tuition Fees while others are Raising Fees

Across the nation, at least five colleges are cutting tuition fees for freshmen students who will start college in the fall of 2012.  According to CNN Money, John McCardell, the Vice Chancellor at Sewanee College, has given the most compelling reason for the changes:

“The reduction in tuition at Sewanee recognizes today’s new economic realities and the pressures that families face. Our goal is to make an outstanding liberal arts education more accessible to qualified students.”

Those economic realities and pressures include lowered incomes and tax bases due to housing busts and job losses. There are moves in come cash strapped states to reduce or eliminate their public subsidies for college educations. The costs of education, however, are staying the same or are getting higher. As a result, the students or their families are having to pay a larger share.

According to the College Board, public four-year colleges will charge on the following scales for 2011/2012 school year. The nationwide average is $8,244 in tuition and fees for in-state students. For full time out of state students, the average nationwide charge is $12,526. 

The following colleges have agreed to stop treating education as a commodity that is available to the highest bidder and to make the benefit affordable for more qualified students.

All of the schools that are reducing fees will apply the reductions when freshmen enroll in the fall of 2012.

Seton Hall University in New Jersey has the greatest rate reduction at 60%, reducing fees to $12,154.

Cabrini College in Pennsylvania will reduce charges by 12%, but the fee will still top $29,000 for the year.

The University of Charleston will cut fall 2012 fees by 22% to $19,500.

Lincoln College in Illinois will cut fall 2012 fees  by 24% to   $16,500.

There is not much relief for students who attend schools that are actually ratcheting up their fees. According to Business Insider, The Obama administration is developing a comprehensive program that will restructure student loan systems and possibly reduce student loan payments from 15% of their discretionary income to 10% of their discretionary income. But this will not start until 2014, and the entire program only applies to recent graduates.

The bad news is that there are five state college systems that were compelled to raise student fee rates.

California State University system has raised rates by  25% in 2011. The largest fee hike was at CSU San Marcos, near Escondido California. The rate rose 31% to $6,596.

Arizona State Universities had low tuition also. The rates were raised to $9,428, about 17% on average for state college and university systems.

Georgia schools rose an average of 16% to about $6800. This indicates that Georgia public colleges had unusually low rates.

Washington State schools were supported by by more than 25% with taxpayers’ subsidies that were cut this year. This led to increasing tuition rates to cover the loss. With about a 16% rise, the costs are now about $9,484.

Nevada went through a housing bust that depleted the public coffers, leading to an overall 14% increase to $6,044. This is still below the national average.

On November 17, University of California students protested the latest in a never ending series of proposed rate hike that tops out at 32%. According to the San Jose Mercury News, The UC system already costs $12,192 per year and the never ending annual increases will raise rates to between $16,596 and $22,068 by 2015. California’s reluctance to raise any taxes is making a public college education into a high priced commodity for international, out of state, and resident students who mostly come from high income families.