Education
              President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks at Hyde Park Academy on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, in Chicago. Obama is traveling to promote the economic and educational plan he laid out in his State of the Union address.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Converse College cuts tuition by 43 percent

Converse College, a four-year women’s college, announced Wednesday that it will cut tuition costs, following a number of colleges and universities lowering tuition in response to President Barack Obama’s call for more affordable higher education.

The decision will set the school’s new tuition to $16,500 for the 2014-2015 school year, a 43 percent decrease from the current tuition of $29,124.  Room and board will increase from $9,120 to $9,500, bringing the total cost for full-time undergraduates to $26,000.

The new prices gives Converse “one of the lowest undergraduate tuitions of any four-year private college in the region,” college president Betsy Flemming told GreenvilleOnline.com during a press conference. “We are the first in South Carolina and among 10 institutions nationwide since 2012 to take the lead in addressing college affordability.”

After Flemming announced the steep cut, many students cried with relief, one of the press conferences attendees said.

In other parts of South Carolina, the total for a four-year college education can range from $17, 720 at Costal Carolina to $46,835 at Wofford College and $54, 448 at Furman University.

The cost of attending college is still unaffordable for many middle-class families today, Flemming noted.

“The increases in the cost of living and the price of college have dramatically exceeded increases in family household income,” she said.

The college’s initiative to increase the affordability of higher education comes in the wake of numerous colleges and universities around the country cutting tuition prices along with freezing rates at current levels.

Last year, Mount Holyoke College, a small liberal arts school in western Massachusetts, halted tuition increases for the 2013-14 school year at $41,720, essentially equivalent to the rate students paid in 2011-12.

The University of Toledo, one of 14 state-funded universities in Ohio and home to some 23,000 total students, announced last year that it will freeze undergraduate tuition and fees, at least for this fall.

“Higher education is getting harder and harder to access for a lot of families, especially in this part of the country,” university official Scott Scarborough told the Toledo Blade.

In Rhode Island, the state’s three public colleges announced undergraduate tuition and fees will be frozen for 2013-14 and at Roger Williams University, a midsize private liberal arts school in Bristol, RI, tuition will freeze at just under $30,000 for full-time undergraduates in 2013-14 year.

Student loan debt, however, remains at an all-time high — collectively, students owe a staggering $1.2 trillion.

“Higher education is not a luxury. It’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford,” Obama said at an event at the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor last January.  “It’s not just enough to increase student aid and you can imagine why. We can’t just keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition.”

 

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