Columbia College is latest to cut costs for adult learners
- Columbia College is the latest to join a growing list of institutions to announce price-slashing initiatives for adult learners, KOMU reports. The private liberal arts college will reduce tuition and book fees to a total of $375 per credit hour beginning this fall for commuter and online undergraduate students.
- Billed as the Truition initiative, the program exclude fees for services and resources that adult evening and distance learners do not typically use, such as the student center and recreational facilities. Campus leaders say that by charging the lowest possible price point for classes provides an opportunity to enroll students who are balancing work, life and education.
- "We think it's time for a college in America to stand up and say enough. Enough of these fees. Enough with the cost of textbooks," said Columbia College president Scott Dalrymple. Columbia follows Champlain College in cutting costs for online students as a means of improving instructional quality and affordability, and historically black Benedict College and Kentucky State University in reducing the costs for undergraduate tuition and summer school, respectively, in recent months.
Tuition discounting and price reductions are a normal part of the business of higher education for institutions of all sizes and missions. But the practice itself could be one that, while designed to encourage enrollment among students from low-income households, could actually have the reverse effect.
Disadvantaged students may still have reservations about applying to programs with costs that appear out of their price range, even with discounts. They may not examine the financial aid and tuition support packages that are available to them and could throw diverse recruitment initiatives into reverse.
But there are examples of how discounting can work. Rosemont College grew applications and enrollment in 2016 after cutting tuition and housing costs. The range of benefits and consequences for student diversity and yield following cost-cutting initiatives may depend on the marketability of the institution, the strength of its programs and the ability to maintain services in the face of short-term revenue losses.