When colleges slash tuition, some students actually pay more

By Nicholas Brock

A recent article posted in The Hechinger Report addressed misconceptions surrounding tuition reductions. Widely publicized “sticker price” tuition decreases have actually had minimal impact on the actual price the average student pays. In Spartanburg, South Carolina, Converse College reduced its sticker price last year from $29,124 to $16,500, more than a $12,000 decrease. However, due to the complicated way tuition is actually determined, actual savings came out to an average of only $1,300 per student. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the article highlights that because institutions tend to focus on cutting tuition over the total cost of attendance, the final amount a student pays to attend an institution may not be reduced when tuition drops. In fact, it may increase after factors like room and board and books are taken into account.