Colleges to start tuition-matching to draw in more students

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The new practice exemplifies the high levels of competition involved in higher education

In a new marketing effort, some colleges will begin price-matching tuition in the hopes of bringing in more students.

While a number a private universities will be offering students public school tuition, a number of public institutions will be offering out-of-state students the opportunity to pay like the locals.

Using billboards and social media campaigns, colleges and universities across the country are hoping to draw in more students from their local areas. Additionally, many schools are hoping they’ll attract higher-performing students, thus boosting their academic profiles, while others are hoping to change the public perception that college is unaffordable.

Nathan Mueller, a principal at EAB -- a consulting firm that helps schools with enrollment strategies -- said that any increases in enrollment universities see after announcements like these will most likely not last long-term. He says that “the interest seems to cool” once schools have the time to evaluate the success of the initiative.

Specific offers

At Oglethorpe University near Atlanta, students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher and a 1250 SAT or 26 ACT score will be eligible to pay the tuition rate of any in-state university. This year, Oglethorpe’s tuition and fees is posted as $39,830. However, with scholarships, students would pay much less, and the average Oglethorpe student ends up paying $13,700 per year.

President Lawrence Schall is hoping to attract higher-performing students, as well as prove that a private education can be affordable and attainable.

“It is about growing the top of the class,” Dr. Schall said.

Currently, Oglethorpe admits roughly 25 percent of the students it accepts, though 10 to 15 percent of those students are high-ranking.

Recently, Oglethorpe has seen an increase in tuition revenue, and in an effort to continue the upwards trend, the school is hoping to admit and enroll even more students -- and from different locations. While the majority of the students are from Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia, Oglethorpe’s newest freshman class comes from 17 different states.

Similarly, since 2012, the University of Nebraska at Kearney has experienced a one to two percent enrollment decline. Now, the school will be offering students from Colorado and Kansas in-state tuition.

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