But college administrators are clearly worried that this may be the sign of a long-term trend. A recent survey of industry leaders found that over one-third are now concerned that they won’t be able to keep enrollments steady with tuition prices where they are now—an increase of over 10 percent from last year. As a result, many schools are looking for ways to keep costs down, as the WSJ reports:
Colleges are facing a problem they haven’t faced in nearly a decade: declining enrollment. New Census Bureau data reports that college enrollment dropped by about a half-million last year for the first time since 2006. Some of this may simply be a result of students who went to school in the late 2000s to avoid the recession finally graduating.
The survey said many schools are trying to lower costs without hurting quality, with 59% of respondents looking to online education and other innovative strategies, compared with 41% last year.
The high cost of college tuition has been endlessly debated by the chattering classes, but as long as students kept enrolling, universities had little incentive to lower it. Now, however, we’re seeing the clearest signs yet that students and parents are beginning to balk at the price of college, which we hope will encourage schools to begin competing on price rather than expensive amenities. If this proves to be more than just a statistical blip, we could be seeing a higher ed transformation sooner rather than later.[College quad image courtesy of Shutterstock]