Magazine article University Business

Tuition Tactics. (Editor's Note)

Magazine article University Business

Tuition Tactics. (Editor's Note)

Article excerpt

AS THE EDITOR OF THE NEWLY MERGED University Business and Matrix publications--both leaders in the higher education space--I am delighted to be bringing readers more value than ever before and, personally, a new viewpoint on many critical issues.

When it comes to the changes in tuition strategy we're now witnessing in higher education, having kids in the throes of the system certainly gives this reporter an interesting vantage point. On the one hand, I can see the bottom-line need for colleges and universities to speedily reassess their balance sheets in light of the current recession, the events that contributed to it, and the prognosis of our nation's economic condition-to-come. On the other hand, as a parent, I'm looking forward to that 2002-2003 tuition squeeze about as merrily as I'm anticipating shoe-horning myself into next summer's bathing suit: I know the thing's got to be worn, but breathing may just have to go by the wayside.

To get a truly informed understanding of the tuition issue, however, I'm now wishing I had a brother on Capitol Hill, or a dear friend who just happens to be a leading economic adviser. And that's because with the Ohio State University system bumping up tuition rates mid-2002 (on top of their fall 2001 increases), and Bethany College (West Virginia) declaring a 42 percent slash for fall 2002, I'd have to be a political strategist to divine which line of attack, in the end, will translate into a healthier economic outcome for colleges and universities. Is it the "raise taxes" (increase tuition rates) approach, or the "economic stimulator" (lower tuition rates, get more qualified applicants in the door) tactic?

Certainly, there is much to be said for both approaches. An institution steeling itself for increased enrollment--while facing increased costs, cuts (or delays) in state aid, and reductions in fundraising revenues--may not have the luxury of "visionary" (read: longer-term) tuition strategies. Getting those numbers balanced quickly via a tuition bump (or two) could mean the school retains the ability to offer the kind of need-based aid it has promised its students. It could allow the college or university to maintain programs and initiatives already planned or in place. …

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