Private University Cutting Prices for Families of Public Service Workers

September 6, 2018

Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, will offer half-price tuition for undergraduates whose families are in nonprofit and public-service work, it announced Wednesday.

The private university is calling the pricing program a “Good Guarantee,” casting it as a way to attract students whose families pursued “mission-centered careers.” It is also an attempt to get a second look from families to who might have thought a college education at a private university was too expensive to afford.

New full-time undergraduates enrolling in 2019 will be eligible for the program if they, their spouses or their parents or legal guardians are paid employees of nonprofit or public service organizations, The Columbus Dispatch reported. That would cover teachers, police officers, employees at churches and members of the military. About a fifth of households in Ohio that have students near college age have a parent or guardian in the targeted sectors.

In the 2018-19 academic year, Capital's annual full-time undergraduate tuition comes in at approximately $35,000. Current students will be able to apply for the new program if they meet certain requirements and receive financial aid packages equivalent to less than 50 percent of tuition.

Capital's effort comes as many small private colleges and universities are turning to pithy pricing programs in an attempt to grab attention from families that college leaders fear have been turned off by high sticker prices. Several institutions recently put in place so-called tuition resets, deeply cutting posted prices and often trimming unfunded financial aid to match. Because few if any students at such institutions pay full price, the hope is that a lower sticker price will attract new students without costing average net tuition revenue per student.

On Wednesday, another small private college sharply lowered its posted price when Stephens College, a women's college in Columbia, Mo., reduced tuition by $8,250 for the fall of 2019. Stephens branded that a college affordability plan and promised that no student would pay more than $22,500 after the change, down from a maximum of $30,750 today.

On Tuesday, the University of the Cumberlands in southeastern Kentucky announced plans to lower tuition by 57 percent to just under $10,000. Last month, Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania and Oglethorpe University in Atlanta unveiled programs with a different twist on price competition, linking tuition for some students to the amount various public flagship universities cost.

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