NAICU Statement on 2009 College Board Tuition and Student Aid Reports

October 20, 2009

Statement by NAICU President David L. Warren on the College Board's 2009 Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid Reports

The College Board today reports that tuition and fees at private, nonprofit colleges and universities increased an average of 4.4 percent for 2009-10. The finding is in line with the results of NAICU's 2009-10 tuition survey, released in June 2009, which found that tuition and fees at private, nonprofit institutions rose at an average of 4.3 percent-the smallest increase in 37 years. At the same time, NAICU found that private colleges and universities increased institutional student aid by 9 percent for 2009-10. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 81 percent of full-time, dependent students at private colleges receive institutional grant aid.

Private college and university leaders understand the financial challenges facing students, and have taken substantial steps to keep their institutions affordable to families hit hard by the recession, despite significant institutional budgetary pressures. Many private colleges are reporting that endowment values fell 20 percent to 30 percent during the 2008-09 fiscal year; fund raising across higher education was projected to decline 3.9 percent during the 2008-09 academic year; and student financial need jumped sharply, with the number of students applying for federal student aid this year up 20 percent over the 2008-09 academic year.

To help students hit hard by the recession, private institutions cut deeply into several areas of their budgets and used the savings to boost student financial aid and temper tuition increases. Freezes and cuts in staff salaries and benefits, construction and renovation projects, and travel and other staff expenses were common.

An unprecedented number of creative campus affordability measures were launched by private colleges this year. These include:

• Holding tuition increases to historical lows;
• Cutting or freezing tuition;
• Matching public university tuition or student aid programs;
• Introducing or expanding programs that replace loans with grants;
• Launching three-year bachelor's degree programs;
• Guaranteeing graduation within four years, and employment after graduation; and
• Offering tuition assistance for laid-off workers.

Institutional affordability efforts, coupled with increased funding for Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and Federal Work-Study this year, have help to keep private, nonprofit higher education an affordable option to students from all backgrounds. Enrollment at our institutions was projected to increase slightly for fall 2009, exceeding earlier expectations, according to a NAICU survey released in July. Since September, many private institutions have announced record, near-record, or otherwise successful enrollments this year.

It is too early to predict whether this year's historically low tuition increase will be matched, or lower, next year, as independent institutions struggle to make up for lost revenue, keep up with growing student demand for financial aid, and balance their budgets.

Nevertheless, private colleges and universities will continue to work creatively to maintain their affordability. Several new announcements have already come this month. For instance, Culver-Stockton College plans to freeze all annual costs for 2010-11; Barry University is cutting tuition for its adult and continuing education programs by 20 percent for displaced workers; and the University of San Francisco will offer general education classes at a 50-percent discount, beginning in January 2010.

No student should rule out private higher education because of published price. Because of our commitment to student aid, four-year private colleges and universities enroll virtually the same percentage of students from low- and middle-income families, as four-year public institutions. With our higher graduation rates, and median student debt similar to four-year public colleges, private, nonprofit colleges are still a great value for students from all backgrounds.

NAICU serves as the unified national voice of independent higher education. With more than 1,000 member institutions and associations, NAICU reflects the diversity of private, nonprofit higher education in the United States. NAICU members enroll 90 percent of all students attending private institutions. They include traditional liberal arts colleges, major research universities, church- and faith-related institutions, historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, single-sex colleges, art institutions, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions.


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