Tuition freeze for 2009 expands to 4 more private sector schools…

In late December, I wrote about two private sector schools that had already announced no tuition increases for 2009… Benedictine University and Merrimack College.

Today, we have four more to add to the list:

  • Wheeling Jesuit University
  • Sierra Nevada College
  • Lake Erie College
  • Yeshiva University

Far from a stampede for sure, but this is still early in the year and the full impact of diminished college savings plans, restricted credit, and increase unemployment hasn’t yet been felt. Financial aid award letters are on their way now to families and everyone will soon start to have a better idea of the economic impact on yield.

Lower than normal tuition increases are popping up like crocuses in the spring. Today we’ll take a look at how these four schools are announcing their freeze, how prominent it is on their website, and peek at the language used to announce it.

Wheeling Jesuit University

At Wheeling the tuition freeze wasn’t included today on the home page or on the first admissions page. The January 22 press release page did turn up in a Google search. The president’s comment noted the “national and international financial crisis” that motivated the school to “take a more radical response” than usual efforts to keep tuition increases as low as possible.” The freeze applies to both graduate and undergraduate tuition.

Included at the end of the release is news that the athletic program is expanding with the addition of new junior varsity sports in the hope that the move “encourages more high school student-athletes to look at us and discover a chance to continue to compete athletically while earning an excellent Jesuit education.”

Sierra Nevada College

As at Wheeling, there was no sign on the home page of the tuition freeze announced on February 6, but a search for “tution freeze” from the home page went right to the press release announcing the decision

The release quotes the college president: “The board felt this was a very tough time for families, both of students who are already here and potential incoming freshmen.” Reaction from several students is included and that can be summed up by the response of one: “Awesome.” The release also notes a likely need to increase fund-raising to compensate for decreased tuition revenue. 

Lake Erie College

Alas, the Lake Erie College website was down and under repair when visiting to check the announcement. A search for the college’s February 19 press release found it at a local TV station’s website. The release notes that the college is offering “a glimmer of hope for those interested in attending a small, private college.”

Included is the news that Lake Erie, like many others, has experienced a record number of applications this year… 1050 for a 35 percent increase over the same time a year ago. The freshmen enrollment goal in September is 400. Obviously, the college is concerned about yield despite the application increase level.

Yeshiva University

Noting “painful belt-tightening” at the university, President Richard Joel said in the press release of January 26 that a freeze was needed because “we must do everything we can in these challenging times to make our unique undergraduate experience affordable and accessible.” The freeze is only for undergraduate tuition. The announcement also notes that scholarship funds are increasing for the new year.

The freeze itself was not on the home page today, although a link to the president’s message about overall consequences of the economic situation, including non-facutly staff reductions, was included. Curiously, a link in the release and on the home page to a video of the president talking about the freeze doesn’t go to a video, but to a message the the video is “only available on Yeshiva University premises.”  

A Trickle or a Torrent?

How many more schools will actualy freeze tuition this year? Obviously impossible to predict, other than to say that more will follow these first six. And others, as some have already done, will lower tuition. Stay tuned. Each school that moves in this direction increases the pressure on another place, especially competitors, to do the same. The list will grow. That’s certain.



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