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While the sticker price of college is at a record high, the discounts are bigger than ever at private schools.
Full-time freshmen at private universities received a tuition discount of 49.1 percent, on average, for the 2016-2017 school year, according to the latest annual tuition discounting study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, or NACUBO. Up from 48 percent the prior school year, that is the highest rate in the study’s history.
Undergraduates as a whole received a discount of 44.2 percent, on average, which is up from 43 percent the prior year, and is also a record high.
“Tuition discounts” refers to grants, scholarships and fellowships. NACUBO notes that the average tuition discount is rising because more students are receiving such aid from their schools, and the aid is covering more costs.
Ken Redd, NACUBO’s director of research and policy analysis, traces this trend back to the last recession. He tells CBS MoneyWatch:
“We’ve been doing our survey for roughly 25 years, and what we found over that time period is that for the most part, the discount rate was stable. But that changed with the Great Recession. There’s a greater need for financial aid since a lot of families haven’t recovered from that.”
Don’t count on tuition discount rates rising indefinitely, though. Redd says the trend is contributing to financial strain at some schools.
The study found that 44 percent of chief business officers at private universities consider discounting to be sustainable long-term. But 41 percent consider it unsustainable or only sustainable short-term.
How you can save on college costs
Of course, you can consider alternatives to private universities if you’re looking to cut college costs. As we note in “5 Ways to Dramatically Reduce the Cost of College”:
“The traditional four-year route is expensive — especially at a private school. But there are ways to cut corners without cutting down on your education.”
Or if you’re determined to attend a private school, choose wisely. Some offer a lot more bang for your buck — see “Want to Become a Billionaire? Go to College Here.”
How do you feel about the cost of college these days? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.