Some universities buck trend, cut tuition for students

Sewanee: the University of the South

The University of the South — generally called Sewanee by locals — is a small, tradition-rich bastion of the liberal arts and sciences amid the scenic mountains of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau.

For the 2011-12 academic year, Sewanee slashed the total cost of tuition, fees, and room and board by 10 percent. The price cut amounted to about $4,600. Also, the cost of Sewanee will remain basically unchanged for students who are already enrolled.

That’s the good news.

Sadly, the price tag for this year’s crop of first-year students has crept some $3,000 higher (but it’s still lower than the pre-reduction price).

Certainly, the big, well-publicized tuition cut did the trick for Sewanee from an admissions standpoint. “Applications were up,” said Laurie Saxton, Sewanee’s director of media relations. “The numbers of freshmen are up. This is the largest first-year class ever. Last year was our previous high.”

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University is a midsize school in the thick of New Jersey’s sprawl that offers a strong Catholic identity and smaller class sizes. This year, entering students with outstanding grades and at least solid standardized test scores are paying the same tuition rate as the in-state tuition rate at Rutgers. The discount amounts to over $21,000, approximately two-thirds off the regular price.

It turns out that the laws of supply and demand prevail in the education industry just like every other industry. “We received a lot of applications from students who fit the profile of the program,” said Alyssa McCloud, vice president of enrollment management at Seton Hall. “A lot more people applied.”

Students entering in 2012 who remain in good academic standing will remain eligible for the price match program for four years. Their annual tuition will go up roughly as much as Rutgers increases its tuition.

Seton Hall’s finance people must still crunch the numbers but Seton Hall is likely to continue the discount program for future incoming classes.