Education for Less

While some Christian colleges look to cut costs, a few are cutting tuition.

Tuition at Warner Pacific College drops from $21,500 to $16,630 this coming fall, the latest example of price cuts accompanied by lower scholarships—a form of rebalancing at a school where the average student receives a 40 percent tuition discount.

Jay Barber, president of the Christian college in Portland, Oregon, attributed the 23 percent reduction to several factors, none more important than preventing sticker shock. The cost of tuition, he said, often scares away prospective enrollees. Top scholarships were clipped from $10,000 to $5,000.

"We felt it was time to take some leadership in this area," Barber said. "Hopefully we'll begin to see a trend [among Christian schools] toward making the pricing and howwe structure financial aid more straightforward."

Intense competition for students, ever-rising tuition costs across the board, and a weakened economy have all caused colleges to rethink their pricing structures. In February Stanford University announced that it would eliminate tuition altogether for students with family incomes under $100,000.

Blackburn College in Illinois announced a 15 percent tuition reduction in mid-January. While most Christian colleges have not cut tuition, the few who have can look to at least one success story.

Muskingum College slashed its rates by 29 percent in 1996. The move worked for the Presbyterian Church (USA)–affiliated school: during the past 12 years, undergraduate enrollment at Muskingum grew from 1,050 to 1,600.

"The strategy is not for everyone," said Jeff Zellers, vice president of enrollment at the college in New Concord, Ohio. "We thought it might create greater interest in Muskingum." Warner Pacific's ability to follow up last year's 20 percent enrollment hike with a similar ...

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Education for Less
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May 2008

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