Converse will reset tuition to $16,500 for full-time traditional undergraduate students for fall 2014. The new tuition is a 43% drop from fall 2013 and resets the tuition price to what it was approximately a decade ago.
- The tuition price for fall 2014 will be $16,500 for the full-time traditional undergraduate program.
- The tuition decrease “resets” the price back to what it was approximately a decade ago.
- The tuition reset represents a 43% drop from the fall 2013 tuition price of $29,124.
- The room and board price for fall 2014 will be $9,500.
- The reset applies to the tuition “sticker price.” The net price may be lowered even further for qualifying students through federal, state, and institutional financial aid.
- The tuition reset is accompanied by a decrease in the aggregate amount of institutional scholarship and financial aid awards. This keeps our net tuition revenue relatively neutral, yet moves Converse from a “high-tuition/high-discount” model to a “low-tuition/low-discount” model that is more affordable for our students over the four years they spend earning a degree (see graph below).
- Every returning Converse student for fall 2014 in the traditional undergraduate program will see a reduction of at least $1,000 in out-of-pocket tuition costs when compared to the old pricing system that would have included a 3.5% tuition increase.
- The reset aligns Converse’s “sticker price” more closely with the average net price that students in the traditional undergraduate program actually pay after scholarships and financial aid are applied.
- The tuition reset only affects the pricing of the traditional undergraduate program and not the pricing of the Converse II or graduate programs (because those sticker prices were already in close alignment with average net prices).
- The reset gives Converse one of the lowest undergraduate tuition prices of any four-year private college or university in the region.
- The reset puts Converse’s total cost of attendance at $26,000 (for tuition, fees, room & board, and books & supplies, before applying any scholarships or financial aid), which is comparable with the total costs of premier public universities, both in and out of state.
1. We listened.
So many families today are concerned that rising tuition prices are putting private higher education out of their reach. During a decade when average family income essentially remained stagnant, tuition at four-year public colleges and universities rose an average of 6.2% each year for the past five years. The pace was 4.4% each year at private colleges and universities, where today the average annual tuition and fees is $27,067 and the average total cost of attendance is $41,047. (Just think, at that rate, in five more years the average tuition and fees will be $33,569 at private colleges, with an average total cost of attendance of over $50,000!) A recent national Gallup Poll indicated that only 26% of Americans think college is affordable for everyone who needs it. Converse heard the public’s concerns and undertook months of research to develop a solid plan that pushes back against the trend of increasing costs.
2. It’s the right thing to do.
Converse has taken the lead to be a voice of reason on behalf of our students and their families, to challenge the nation’s escalating tuition costs and to ensure that the value of a private education is within reach for any talented young woman who seeks it. The same vision that led to Converse’s founding 125 years ago still drives today’s mission. We are taking a pioneering step, much like our founders did in 1889, to ensure that a high-quality liberal arts education continues to be possible for aspiring young women who want to make a difference in the world. Just as we help activate the voices and vision of our students to advance their dreams, careers and communities, we are raising our institutional voice to communicate our vision for providing great value and return on investment for our students. Just as we challenge students to be change agents for good, we commit ourselves to starting a new conversation in higher education—one that focuses on real value in terms of both cost and quality of outcomes.
3. We can.
Converse’s culture of creative and visionary thinking and doing has placed us in a position of strength. During recent years, our Board of Trustees and the College leadership team have intentionally engaged in strategic planning, conservative revenue forecasting, and careful attention to expense management. Those efforts have spawned an energy and excitement rare in colleges across the country today. Record enrollments, new buildings and capital improvements, innovative curricular and co-curricular developments, expanding online offerings, and a growing athletic program are all a part of the Converse momentum today. As a result, we have the financial capacity to dramatically decrease our tuition price while still maintaining and improving the high quality and lasting value that a Converse degree holds.
4. It makes a Converse education even more valuable.
The launch of this initiative, with its dramatic reduction of tuition by almost half, places Converse in the national spotlight as a bold leader in college quality, affordability, and value. The return on investment (a formula that factors in quality and success as well as cost) in a Converse degree improves with the tuition reset. And as our value is enhanced, so is Converse’s reputation.
- More students will consider applying to Converse. With a substantially lower tuition price, we expect to reach more prospective students who would like to have access to a Converse education. In the past, they may have experienced “sticker shock” from our published price and concluded (prior to investigating what their net cost could be) they could not afford a Converse education.
- Families of all income levels will benefit. Those who receive federal and state need-based aid will see their aid cover a higher percentage of their cost. Families who do not qualify for need-based aid and consequently have a net cost closer to the sticker price will benefit. And families that qualify for a mix of need- and merit-based institutional aid will continue to do so.
- Enrollment is projected to increase. The retention rates of returning students can be expected to improve, since each of them will experience a lower out-of-pocket cost for Fall 2014 than they normally would have. And with Converse boldly leading the nation in college affordability, as more prospective students learn of our lowered tuition and then visit campus, see the dynamic opportunities our students have, and calculate our improved return on investment (a ratio where our quality remains high but our price is lowered), we can reasonably forecast increased new student enrollment as well.
- Nominal future tuition increases will be from a substantially lowered base. The “high-tuition/high-discount” model that is so prevalent among private colleges across the nation has become unsustainable simply because the sticker price it requires, even with annual increases that only match the cost-of-living index, has surpassed what is reasonable to the general public. The tuition reset does exactly what its name implies—resets the tuition base to a more sustainable level on a flatter trajectory.