Posts published on September 4, 2018

Some Colleges Are Dropping Their Prices

Cuts to advertised tuition come in the face of an enrollment drop and consumer backlash

Tuition is being cut by about $25,000 this year to attract more students to Mills College in Oakland, California, one of several colleges and universities freezing or reducing tuition this fall in the face of an enrollment decline and consumer backlash.

Tuition is being cut by about $25,000 this year to attract more students to Mills College in Oakland, California, one of several colleges and universities freezing or reducing tuition this fall in the face of an enrollment decline and consumer backlash. 

It may have been one of the biggest back-to-school sales ever: a 36 percent drop in the advertised cost of a college education.

That’s what awaited students this fall at Mills College, one of a growing number of higher-education institutions that have started freezing or dropping their prices in the face of a years-long enrollment decline and heightened price sensitivity.

The 1,300-student private college in Oakland, California, which like many private colleges has been having trouble attracting students, dropped its sticker price from $45,000 to $29,000 a year.

It’s an increasingly common example of market forces finally coming to bear on college costs, which have consistently grown much faster than prices for other goods and services thanks to a steady supply of students. In the 10 years ending in 2016, college tuition and fees rose 63 percent, or three times the rate of everything else tracked by the Consumer Price Index, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report

Today, however, because of a decline in the number of 18- to 24-year-olds and an improving economy that is sucking people straight into the workforce, colleges have 2.9 million fewer customers than they did at the last peak, in 2011, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, which tracks this.

Related: Eligible for financial aid, nearly a million students never get it

Meanwhile, almost seven in 10 parents said in a survey that they had eliminated colleges from consideration for their children because of the cost. In another survey, only 44 percent of Americans said private, nonprofit universities and colleges are worth what they charge.

More colleges are realizing there’s no point having high sticker prices if they’re discouraging prospective applicants and few students are actually paying them, said Sandy Baum, an independent higher-education consultant and retired economics professor.

“It’s very much a strategic decision,” Baum said. “They’re looking at, will we get more applicants if we lower our sticker price? It works for some of them and it really doesn’t work out for others.”

More and more are giving it a try.

Drew University, Sweet Briar College, Birmingham-Southern College, Benedict College and the University of Sioux Falls all reduced their advertised tuition starting this year. Old Dominion University is lowering the price of undergraduate tuition for active-duty military service members. Champlain College cut tuition in half for students in its online program, part of a strategy to increase enrollment.

Related: Can ‘work colleges’ in cities become a low-cost, high-value model for the future?

The University of Colorado at Boulder is eliminating millions of dollars in student fees. Several public universities are among those responding to a declining supply of students by freezing or reducing their prices.

The University of Colorado at Boulder is eliminating millions of dollars in student fees. Several public universities are among those responding to a declining supply of students by freezing or reducing their prices. 

Concerned about Illinois high school graduates leaving for colleges in other states, the University of Illinois system is in the fourth year of a tuition freeze. The University of Colorado has cut fees. Five South Dakota universities are offering lower in-state tuition this fall to freshmen and transfer students from Nebraska; the University of Nebraska at Kearney will extend the deal next year to residents of Colorado and Kansas. The University of Missouri-Kansas City, meanwhile, is offering lower resident tuition to students from Kansas and other midwestern states.

Some of the seeming price drops are sleight of hand. Most students don’t pay the advertised price for college, but, after receiving discounts and financial aid, end up owing a lower “net price.” At private colleges, that comes to about half as much, said Lucie Lapovsky, a pricing consultant. And as the stream of students has dried up, those discounts have been getting deeper.

Colleges like Mills are simply changing their advertised prices to something closer to the average of what students actually pay, though Mills says most students will still see their costs decline.

Related: With enrollment sliding, liberal arts colleges struggle to make a case for themselves

7 Tips for Making an Effective Study Group



Study groups are a well-loved strategy for achieving better grades on difficult exams, but it can be challenging putting one together. A good study group requires the right mix of motivated people with the right balance of skills. With these tips, you’ll be able to collaborate effectively and tackle even the most difficult subject.

Do Study Groups Work?

Every study group will have its own unique dynamic, but the technique of collaborating when studying for exams can be useful, provided students are using best practices in group composition. At the very least, a study group creates an environment of productivity, which can increase your retention and motivate you to study more.

A study group is only as good as its members. The key to building a successful group is to find other students who are as motivated as you are to succeed in the class. These seven tips will help you put together the perfect group before your next big test.

  1. Find Your Study Buddies

The first step for making an effective study group is to find classmates who are also interested in teaming up. First, find out if there is already an established study group in your class. If there isn’t, you can get the ball rolling by asking the people around you if they’d like to participate. You can also use class communication systems (for example, if you have an online message board), to ask if anyone wants to join. Not everyone in the class needs to be a part of your group; even one or two people can be enough to benefit from.

  1. Talk to Your Professor

Your instructor is the best place to start when strategizing your study session. They may have invaluable tips for studying and synthesizing the course material. In some cases, your professor may be willing to help compose materials like study guides or practice exams to guide your group.

  1. Choose Your Location

A productive space is crucial for a well-functioning study group. Libraries, student lounges, and other shared workspaces can help each member of your group channel their most productive attitude. A dorm room or home can work if the space is quiet and free of distractions.

  1. Choose Group Roles

You and your study partners all have skills and knowledge you can bring to the table. If you’re working on a group project or a big test, assigning group roles can be a great way to split the workload and maximize your efficiency. Some useful roles include a group leader, a scribe, an editor, and a time manager (depending on the task at hand).


  1. Use Collaborative Study Methods

Depending on the material, it’s often beneficial to study collaboratively. Partner up with your study-mates and practice answering questions, or quiz each other on flash cards. If you’re writing a big final paper, a paired editing workshop can help improve your writing skills. It won’t always be easy to work together, but even if you need to study quietly for a bit, it can be easier if others around you are working quietly as well. Plan out your study methods before the session to help make this process smoother.

  1. Avoid Conflict

Some disagreements are inevitable in any group, especially if everyone is stressed about a big exam. Try and address any issues directly and openly to make sure everyone in your group feels like their concerns are heard. Compromising can help your group form a stronger bond, which will help you navigate the challenges of your course.


  1. Reward Yourselves

Staying motivated to meet as a study group can sometimes be difficult, but planning sessions around social events or activities can be a great reward for the group. If your group is made of sports fans, set aside time to study first so you can all reward yourselves by watching the big game right after you finish. Or if your group is more into movies, plan a Star Wars marathon schedule to keep everyone looking forward to the next study session.


Having a productive study space to work in can make all the difference in your final grade, and a successful study group can often carry over after the semester ends. If your classmates are in the same major as you, it’s possible that you’ll have other classes in common in the future. At the very least, you and your new friends will have your best shot at surviving the next big chemistry exam.


Alex Haslam graduated from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah in 2017. Today she is a freelance writer who focuses on consumer technology, entertainment, and higher education.