It’s Time to Get Over Sticker Shock

May 19, 2010 by  
Filed under College Newswire

For the last 10 years or so, private colleges have made huge strides to make college more affordable for middle-class families.  Even though sticker prices may be rising, discounts have been rising along-side.  In 2008, the latest year for which data is available, the average discount rate for first-time, full-time freshman was 42 %.  According to the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), the increase in discounts has been driven by the economic downturn.  In their survey of 355 independent institutions, NACUBO found discounts to be at an all-time high.  In our practice, we have observed similar discounts, with some students receiving discounts of 75-100%.  When students are a good fit for the prospective college, they are more likely to receive larger discounts.

For a bit of  local perspective on this discount rate, take a comparison between a school like Trinity University (TX) and University of Texas-Austin.  Trinity’s 2009-10 total cost for full-time students including housing is $42,324.  Using the average discount rate of 42% as observed by NACUBO , discounted total cost would be $24,547.  By contrast UTexas-Austin, which almost never offers aid to middle class families has a total cost of $20,286.  At the end of the day, you’re looking at a difference of about $4,000.  That’s not much of a premium for the tremendous increase in student resources, faculty attention, and intimacy that Trinity offers above and beyond UTexas-Austin.


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