According to CNBC, until the coronavirus crisis, nothing had been able to slow the pace of annual college tuition increases.
Year after year, college costs edged higher, rising 3% to 5%, on average — outpacing inflation and family income.
However, in the midst of the pandemic, schools are under pressure to keep these increases in check. Several institutions said they would freeze tuition during the ongoing economic crisis, while a smaller number announced discounts or even more dramatic tuition cuts.
And yet, there were schools that raised their prices anyway, including some of the nation’s most elite institutions, with healthy enrollment numbers and solid endowments.
Stanford, Yale, Wellesley, Amherst, Brown, Dartmouth, Rice and Grinnell College all raised undergraduate tuition for 2020-2021 about 4% to 5%, even though classes are being taught largely online, according to a recent report by GoBankingRates.
“There are no instructional cost savings for Grinnell to pass along to students who enroll online,” according to Grinnell’s website. “Consequently, we will not apply a universal discount to the cost of courses offered online.”
Harvard University and California Institute of Technology were fully remote in the fall and invited only a limited number of students on campus for the spring. However, tuition still increased roughly 4% at both institutions.
These days, tuition accounts for about half of a school’s revenue and providing a college education — even online — is only getting more expensive, according to Richard Arum, dean of the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine.
Paying for faculty is one of a school’s largest expenses and those outlays remain fixed, plus there are extra costs from software and technological upgrades as well as new public safety measures due to Covid-19.
Already, universities have announced revenue losses in the hundreds of millions.