The Colleges with the Biggest Increases and Decreases in Tuition

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You don’t have to look far to see headlines about the growing price of college, or that over the last decade, college prices have been outpacing inflation. At Edmit, we don’t keep it a secret that very few students actually pay “sticker” prices (the listed price of tuition, fees, room and board for a college or university), and that average or net prices are more representative of what students pay. However, sticker prices define the ranges a student *could* pay, and so they’re still something to pay attention to.


What are the overall trends in sticker price growth for a cohort of institutions that offer a 4-year degree and accept first-time, full-time freshmen? To answer this question, Edmit’s data wizards took a look at growth in full cost-of-attendance from academic years 2016 to 2017. Overall, sticker prices increased by 2.9%, an average of $921 dollars per school. Unsurprisingly, private not-for profit colleges prices increased tuition more than public institutions (3.0% versus 2.7%).Public schools tend to have more buffered funding sources, and some U.S. states even implement tuition freezes on their public institutions.


Our data is from IPEDS, supplemented by Edmit research in some cases.Who we included in this analysis: to be included, the school must have been a Federal Title-IV participating institution, offer 4-year or higher degrees, accept first-time full-time freshmen, and be either a public or private not-for-profit institution (i.e. private for-profits were no included). From the 2016 to the 2017 academic years, some schools actually began to offer student housing; additionally, some schools did not report room and board costs for either the 2016, or the 2017 academic years. If a school did not report housing prices for both years, we did not include their room and board costs in our analysis.


Table: Changes in Cost of Attendance by Public/Private Status for Select Cohort, 2016-2017 Academic

School Type

Avg Abs Change

Avg % Change

All

$921

2.9%

Public

$471

2.7%

Private Not-for-Profit

$1,226

3.0%


So how many schools’ prices didn’t change much, or how many lowered their prices?  We found that roughly 4 out of 5 schools in the cohort had a sticker price increase of more than 1%, with roughly 1 out of 10 having no significant change (see table below), and a small share (61 schools, or 3.5%) of the cohort saw a decrease.


Table: Trends in COA for Select Cohort, 2016 to 2017 Academic Years

Change in COA

No. Schools

% of Total

Increase > 1%

1453

83.6%

No significant change

224

13.0%

Decrease > 1%

61

3.5%


Now that we’ve looked at changes across the entire cohort, let’s see which institutions led the pack in sticker price increases, as well as those that “bucked the trends” and actually implemented decreases. The table below ranks the schools that had the largest increases of sticker price between the 2016 and 2017 academic years. The largest increase was Northwest University’s College of Professional Studies (36%), followed by Texas A&M in San Antonio (25%), and Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitz at 22%. The remaining schools had less than 20% growth rates, with Bellevue University and Jackson College tied at 18%; closing up the list is Columbia College Hollywood at 16%.


Table: Top 10 COA Increases for Select Cohort, 2016 - 2017 Academic Years

School Name

Abs Change,

‘16-’17 AY

Percent

Change,

‘16-’17 AY

Northwest University- College of Adult and Professional Studies (WA)

$4,305

35.7%

Texas A&M University - San Antonio (TX)

$1,654

25.2%

Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitz (NY)

$2,000

21.7%

Bellevue University (NE)

$2,520

18.3%

Jackson College (MI)

$2,508

18.3%

South Seattle College (WA)

$661

17.2%

Sul Ross State University (TX)

$2,467

17.1%

Boise State University (ID)

$2,508

16.9%

Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (MA)

$5,250

16.4%

Columbia College Hollywood (CA)

$3,390

16.1%


As an alternative to ranking by percent increase, we might also want to know which schools had the largest absolute dollar increase from the 2016 to 2017 academic year. The largest increase in our cohort was for the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (MA), whose sticker prices increased by $5,250, followed by Eureka College ($4,540), Northwest University’s College of Adult and Professional Studies ($4,305), Drake University ($4,164), and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago ($4,110).


Now that we know which schools had the largest price increases, let’s see which had decreases! The leader for largest decrease of sticker price is Broward College, which had an almost 50% reduction from the 2016 to 2017 academic year. The next largest decrease was at the College of Saint Mary (-27%), followed by Columbia College (-25%), and La Salle University (-20%). Snow College closes out this list at -10%. We look forward to seeing how net prices (what students actually paid, including financial aid and scholarships) changed for these schools as well (check with us next December, when IPEDS releases 2017 net price data, to find out!).   


Table: Top 10 COA Decreases for Edmit Universe, 2016 - 2017 Academic Years

Name

Abs Change

Percent Change

Broward College (FL)

- $1,338

-48.6

College of Saint Mary (NE)

-$10,004

-26.7

Columbia College (SC)

-$9,150

-25.0

La Salle University (PA)

-$11,204

-20.4

Immaculata University (PA)

-$7,740

-16.2

Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OK)

-$1,747

-13.8

Green River College (WA)

-$622

-13.5

United States Merchant Marine Academy (NY)

-$147

-12.6

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (NC)

-$1,764

-12.0

Snow College (UT)

-$9,00

-10.2


Many students and parents underestimate how much room and board, or otherwise cost of living, affects how much families pay for students to attend college. Often, room prices are a product of schools’ environment and housing market. For example, dorm prices in coastal cities can be almost double that for comparable living space farther inland (watch out for our blog post on room and board to learn more!). In an effort to remove the effects that room and board have on price increases, we look at the schools with the largest increases in only tuition and fees (see below).


The largest increase in tuition & fees from the 2016 to the 2017 academic years was for Jackson College, which had an increase of almost 50%!  The next largest was 12 percentage points lower - you may recognize Northwest University’s College of Adult and Professional Studies from above (36%), followed by Sul Ross State University (26%), Texas A&M in San Antonio (25%), and Wayland Baptist University (22%), with Fort Valley State University closing out the list at 19%.


Top 10 Tuition + Fees Only Increases, 2016-2017 Academic Years

Name

Abs Change

Percent Change

Jackson College (MI)

$2,648

47.0%

Northwest University-College of Adult and Professional Studies (WA)

$4,305

35.6%

Sul Ross State University (TX)

$1,653

25.8%

Texas A&M University - San Antonio (TX)

$1,654

25.2%

Wayland Baptist University (TX)

$3,450

22.0%

Dalton State College (GA)

$709

20.2%

Eureka College (IL)

$4,270

20.2%

Alabama State University (AL)

$1,848

20.0%

Bacone College (OK)

$2,850

19.2%

Fort Valley State University (GA)

$1,064

19.0%


What does this all mean for you? College pricing can be up and down, but most colleges do continue to raise their prices year to year. Most importantly, trends from the past year do not predict the future. If a college you’re considering has lowered or keep prices stable, they may continue to do so - but they may well not! Look for assurances like the Miami Tuition Promise if you’re concerned about changes in your cost of attendance during your studies, and prepare for the scenario where you’ll see rising costs.


We’ll continue to publish insights from our data and to share more about pricing trends for different institution types. Get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more (support@edmit.me)!

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