With higher education costs skyrocketing across the country, Sweet Briar College, a women’s liberal arts college in rural Virginia, is making headlines because it’s slashing tuition and fees.
The private college’s new rates are a 32% reduction from the “sticker price” that few people actually pay.
Sweet Briar says the changes for the 2018-2019 academic year provide cost transparency and predictability for families of all income levels. The total for tuition, fees, room and board will be $34,000.
Need-based financial aid and scholarships will continue, but the discount rate is expected to drop significantly.
“Discount rates are confusing for students and families, and the high-tuition, high-discount rate model only works for a small number of institutions,” said Meredith Woo, president of Sweet Briar College. “It requires a large number of full-pay students or an exceptionally large endowment for the numbers to work.”
2017-2018 undergraduate tuition and fees
- Tuition: $36,520
- Room and Board: $12,900
- Student Life Fee: $275
- Technology Fee: $360
- Total: $50,055
2018-2019 undergraduate tuition and fees
- Tuition and Fees: $21,000
- Room and Board: $13,000
- Total: $34,000
Sweet Briar and other colleges that reset their rates are hoping it will make them more competitive with public universities, particularly when it comes to higher out-of-state tuition rates.
The key thing to remember is that the sticker price can be misleading because it doesn’t factor in discounts.
The U.S. Department of Education has a tool on its website that helps you determine the net price, which is the amount that a student pays to attend college after subtracting scholarships and grants.