Study: When Colleges Fall in Rankings, Tuition Goes Up

February 18, 2016

When colleges move down in the rankings, they respond by raising tuition, according to a new study.

Using data from U.S. News & World Report rankings between 2005 and 2012, researchers found that colleges are likely to set tuition higher after a sharp decline in status -- especially if their rivals are already charging higher tuition, and if they appeal widely to prospective students.

In higher education, status is a primary organizational goal, the authors write. For many universities, the higher price is strategic. Instead of reflecting the value of the institution, the price may be intended to send a message about the status a university aspires to.

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