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From The Industry: Enrollment Panic /Tuition Discounts (Again)

The brief highlights from a report published in Inside Higher Education post earlier this week, and what it means for Homeschooling for College Credit Parents.

Inside Higher Education is a publication I subscribe to. You can access both of the full articles if you sign up for an account with them. There is no cost to do that, but I’ll save you the trouble and give you the highlights that are most relevant to our Homeschooling for College Credit community.

The first article concerns enrollment, and reinforces a message I shout over and over- getting into college is easy, it’s getting OUT that’s hard. This event focused on the decline in enrollment and the panic being experienced by the industry. I think it is super-valuable for parents to see recaps like this because our students have leverage! They are no longer at the mercy of any college that will take them, in truth, almost every college (except the tippy-top most selective) will throw themselves at your teen’s feet to get their enrollment (and the dollars that brings).

The second appeared earlier this spring about the deep discounts (aka scholarships/enrollment incentives) private colleges are rolling out trying to entice students to enroll for fall 2023 start. Combining both of these will help you understand the context a little better as your teens make college choice decisions this year.

“Higher ed experts gathered in D.C. Thursday to take stock of a three-year enrollment plunge. Some charted a path forward, while others saw only dark clouds ahead…

Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, kicked off the day with a summary of his organization’s bleak enrollment and attainment findings since the pandemic began in 2020...

Community college enrollment has dropped by a precipitous 16 percent, he recounted, while four-year institutions have experienced a 4 percent decline. In 2022, the number of undergraduate degree earners fell by 1.6 percent, the first setback for that sector in over a decade. By the end of 2022, the enrollment free fall had slowed to a trickle, but Shapiro said the hole created during the pandemic remains concerningly deep…

Most small private colleges and regional publics, he said, are still hemorrhaging students—and he’s not sure many of them are going to be able to stop the bleeding.

HS4CC context: “tuition discounts” 2 years in a row.

Full article

These discounts are what the public calls “freshman scholarships.” They are awards that are given out to first time incoming freshman. Homeschooling for College Credit students are all eligible for these because college credit earned during high school doesn’t impact freshman applicants. Only students who earned college credit after high school become transfer students – typically not eligible for freshman scholarships.

“According to a new NACUBO study, private college tuition discount rates hit a record 56.2 percent, continuing a pattern of annual increases.

The average tuition discount at private nonprofit colleges once again hit a record high, according to a new National Association of College and University Business Officers study released this week.

A NACUBO press release noted that “the awards were, on average, the largest yet.”

The average institutional tuition discount rate was 56.2 percent for first-time, full-time freshmen for the 2022–23 academic year, and 50.9 percent for all undergraduates, according to early projections from NACUBO’s annual survey, which included 341 private, nonprofit institutions.

Last year’s study showed discount rates of 54.5 percent for first-time undergraduates, which itself was a record high, up from the past high of 53.9 percent in the study released in 2021.

The Take-away

Even more than in years past, your teen should expect acceptance into every except the most selective colleges (and even then….) but expect that every acceptance will come with a “scholarship” of some type. Do not be blinded by this “award” because it is typical and expected. Do not allow the feeling of pride from scholarships of this type to sway you into choosing a college that results in deep debt. As always, look at the total cost of the degree (all credits remaining, housing, etc.) and choose accordingly. We know that over and over and over again, it is students – not employers- who feel that “where” a student goes to college matters. We have to ask if we care so much because we’ve enjoyed 13 years of marketing and propaganda that tells our students as much.


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

One thought on “From The Industry: Enrollment Panic /Tuition Discounts (Again)

  1. I think this is valuable advice. I hear parents being so honored by giant scholarships to the point that they aren’t paying attention to the bottom line. It’s like businesses that regularly overprice their products and then have “flash sales” for greatly reduced prices. These flash sales are regular enough that the sale price should be viewed as regular price. Same is true for colleges offering “major scholarships.” It’s all about the “out the door price.”

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