Tuition realignment benefits students
New student enrollment at Greensboro College has been declining for the past couple of years. To combat this, Greensboro College implemented a tuition realignment that reduced the “sticker price” of tuition by over a third of its originally reported cost in October 2018. Since then, the number of new students enrolling increased in the fall 2019 semester, and student retention rates have increased from 63 percent to 74 percent
In previous years, tuition for the average full-time student at Greensboro College was priced at $30,440; that was over 30 percent higher than the average state cost for a private college. This cost was reduced extensively by the college for nearly all students—no students were really being charged the full tuition.
According to President Dr. Czarda last year, “The published amount [for cost of attendance to Greensboro College] was over $40,000 per year, but nobody pays that amount, nobody.”
Students were presented with financial aid packages that covered amounts often 50 percent or more of tuition costs, giving the illusion that students were being granted large scholarships when, in reality, they were unfunded tuition discounts.
Despite theses attractive “scholarships,” the college recognized that high tuition costs not only scare away potential students, but also discourage current students from continuing their educations. Greensboro College therefore, as part of their Defining the Path program, decided that the cost they presented needed to be lowered.
After extensive research by a team led by Vice President for Advancement and Admissions Anne Hurd and help from a financial consultant, Greensboro College reduced this presented cost to $18,500.
The phenomenon of displaying high sticker prices for tuition only to later discount the cost is something happening at institutions all over the country. For many Greensboro College students and students across the nation, these seemingly generous scholarships were their determining factors in their decisions of where to attend college. It is still unknown how the elimination of these scholarships will affect new student enrollment in the long run.
However, Hurd and her team are dedicated to maximizing student retention and increasing numbers of new student enrollment beyond just reducing the reported cost of tuition.
“We really needed to do three things, first we needed to look at our financial model and make sure we are maximizing our resources, second part was what we call strategic packaging matrix, which makes sure we are using our financial aid in the best way that helps the most students and then the third thing was marketing. We’ve launched Defining the Path, redone our website twice in the past year to appeal to a younger demographic”
At its one-year anniversary, it is still unclear how the tuition realignment and Defining the Path campaign will completely affect the campus in years to come. The college predicts that substantial results in new student enrollment will take up to three years to take effect as the college market changes. However, one thing was clear about the tuition realignment: when current students were given the chance to either transition to the new alignment plan or keep their original financial aid packages, President Czarda reports every single one of the 554 returning students this year chose the new plan.
As the cost of higher education in the U.S. increases every year, students and their families accumulate more and more stress and student loans. According to 2019 statistics from the Federal Reserve website, America citizens are drowning in over $1.3 trillion of student debt. Many students today question whether or not a bachelor’s degree is worth these astronomical costs, especially considering the difference form thirty years ago when college students could easily pay for their educations with minimum wage jobs, some family support and minimal, if any, student loans.
Greensboro College has shown through this campaign and continuing efforts that it is dedicated to making higher education more accessible for all, and improving new student enrollment and student retention rates for years to come.
By Cristy Samano-Romo