Colleges Worry Their Big Bills Will Keep Students Away

September 16, 2013

Maintaining strong enrollment is becoming a bigger worry for college administrators as cash-strapped families begin to balk at rising tuition bills, according to a survey by audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP, says the Wall Street Journal.

The economic crisis hurt many families' credit scores, and at the same time, the underwriting standards for loans have gotten tighter, says Milford McGuirt, KPMG's national audit sector leader for higher education and non-for-profits. "Families have to make tough decisions on the amount of investment and the return on investment from going to college," he says.

  • The annual survey found that 37 percent of 103 higher education leaders said they are "very concerned" about their ability to maintain current enrollment levels, up from 23 percent last year.
  • Average tuition and fees for full-time, first-year undergraduates at four-year state schools were $7,526 for the academic year that ended this past spring, a rise of 6.7 percent from a year earlier.
  • Overall undergraduate- and graduate-school enrollment fell by about a half million to 19.9 million in 2012.

"In 20 years, the shift from tuition being 23 percent of operating revenue at public universities to now it's right at 50 percent is a trajectory that's not positive and probably not sustainable," says Michael Reilly, executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Source: Joe Barrett, "Colleges Worry Their Big Bills Will Keep Students Away," Wall Street Journal, September 4, 2013.

 

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