College seems to get more expensive every year, and private, non-profit schools generally have higher sticker prices on their tuition than publicly-owned colleges and universities. But behind the scenes, private colleges are offering their incoming students higher and higher tuition discounts. In the 2020-2021 school year, tuition discounts at private colleges reached an all-time high as schools tried new ways to attract students to enroll during the pandemic.
According to a new study, the average tuition discount rate for incoming students was 53.9 percent during the 2020-2021 school year. That means for every $100 charged to a student in tuition, $53.9 of that money was not actually collected by the college. These savings are a noticeable increase from 2019-2020’s average tuition discount rate of 51.2%. The study suggests that rising pressures to fill classes during the pandemic led to schools greatly increasing tuition discounts for incoming students.
Pandemic-spurred tuition discounts in the 2020-2021 school year also affected currently-enrolled sophomores, juniors and seniors. On average, the tuition discount rate for upperclassmen rose to 48.1 percent, up 2.2 points from 2019-2020’s discount rate.
When calculating tuition discounts, the study took into consideration all kinds of institutional aid provided by a college, including institutional scholarships, fellowships and grants. But it’s likely that incoming students saved even more money on their college tuition when scholarships offered by outside organizations are taken into account.
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