Higher education is facing an affordability crisis. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the majority of Americans believe that college is not affordable. The global pandemic has caused financial difficulties for even more students and their families, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. As a result, higher education institutions are being challenged with finding ways to make postsecondary education more affordable, while also remaining competitive and delivering a high-quality product to students.
One way in which universities are trying to tackle this challenge is by experimenting with innovative alternative pricing models. For example, at the end of last year Penn State established its Tuition Task Force, a committee made up of university stakeholders from various areas dedicated to finding solutions to problems in affordability, accessibility, and sustainability. The group is looking into ways to better serve all students by restructuring the institution’s tuition model.
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Tuition discounting is another practice that many private nonprofit schools are using to increase access for low-income students. The practice allows universities to offer greater assistance to students while maintaining the value that is inherently associated with more expensive institutions in the minds of many. In some states, students and their families are able to “lock-in” their tuition rate years ahead of their intended attendance, which enables them to better plan for their futures.