Sewanee Cuts Tuition by 10 Percent

The University of the South this week announced plans to cut its tuition, fees, and room and board for the 2011-2012 school year by 10 percent, a $4,600 reduction from this year's total.

"Higher education is on the verge of pricing itself beyond the reach of more and more families," says John McCardell, the university's vice chancellor. "The reduction in tuition at Sewanee recognizes today's new economic realities and the pressures that families face. Our goal is to make an outstanding liberal arts education more accessible to qualified students."

"For the last three years, McCardell said in an interview, Sewanee has lost more admitted applicants to the University of Georgia than to any other institution,'" writes Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik. "The university also loses significant numbers of applicants to the Universities of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tennessee at Knoxville, and Virginia. 'More and more families are telling us that they are basing their decision on price,' he said."

"Sewanee's move has not been tried by any other institution in the top tier of U.S. News and World Report's liberal-arts college rankings," writes The New York Times' Tamar Lewin. "And according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, no college has reduced its tuition this year, and only about a dozen colleges have frozen it."

"Altering the pricing model is something colleges must consider in light of the economic climate, Mr. McCardell said," writes The Chronicle of Higher Education's Beckie Supiano. "For years, he said, conventional wisdom at selective colleges has been to charge what the market will bear and provide financial assistance to those who can't afford to pay it. Sewanee's discount rate--the amount of tuition covered by institutional aid, on average--is about 44 percent. That's lower than the rate at some peer institutions, Mr. McCardell said, but still unsustainable."