These Colleges Are Giving Tuition Discounts This Fall

Some colleges and universities are offering tuition discounts ranging from a small percentage to more than half off for the 2020 fall semester because of the coronavirus pandemic. These announcements go beyond freezing tuition or temporarily suspending certain fees for students and their families as the country faces a deep economic downturn.

Johns Hopkins University, for example, announced Aug. 6 that it would hold all undergraduate classes online this fall and give students a 10% discount on tuition for the fall semester. This decision came after weighing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Johns Hopkins leadership understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has created unexpected financial burdens for many families, and that their circumstances may have changed in the last several months,” Karen Lancaster, Johns Hopkins spokesperson, wrote in an email.

Along with the tuition reduction, Lancaster says, the university expects to award an additional $15 million in financial aid to undergraduates, will provide need-based aid to cover at-home living expenses for some students and will provide case-by-case aid for other hardships such as lack of internet service.

Many of the colleges offering tuition discounts are holding classes entirely or partially online this fall. The move to remote instruction ignited questions from families and students about the value of online education versus in-person learning, with some creating petitions calling for tuition discounts for the duration of online instruction.

[READ: Smart Money Moves if Coronavirus Forces Colleges Online This Fall.]

Some discounts apply to all undergraduates while others are for a specific group of students, so students should contact their college to learn if they qualify. Here, the phrase “tuition discount” describes any tuition discount, reduction or cut for the fall semester that is attributed to the financial burden families face in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

These are some of the colleges that have announced tuition discounts for the 2020 fall semester:

Clark Atlanta University, 10%

Georgetown University, 10%

Hampton University, 15%

— Johns Hopkins University, 10%

Lafayette College, 10%

National University, 25%

Princeton University, 10%

Paul Quinn College, 28%

Rowan University, 10%

Southern New Hampshire University, 100% for freshmen, 61% the following year

Spelman College, 10%

Thomas University, 30%

West Chester University of Pennsylvania, 11%

Williams College, 15%

The duration of these offers — and details on what is discounted and for which students — varies widely across institutions.

[Read: How the Coronavirus Can Disrupt Your College Financial Aid.]

“A discount in the most classical sense is cutting the price for a particular set of students, like athletes and first generation students, populations schools are trying to attract,” says Ken Redd, senior director of research and policy analysis at the National Association of College and University Business Officers. “When everybody gets the discount it’s really more of a price cut or price reduction.”

National University in San Diego is an example of an institution offering a tuition discount that isn’t across-the-board, meaning only some students will receive the aid to cut costs.

“The pressures on our student body and unemployed citizens from the COVID virus allowed us to do this,” says David Andrews, National University president. There are multiple ways students can receive a discount, he says, “and the goal is to reduce the overall expenses for our students by 25%.”

A combination of opportunity scholarships and consumption scholarships — for example, getting four courses for the cost of three — will play a role in cutting student costs this fall, Andrews says.

[READ: How Financial Aid Appeals Work Due to Coronavirus.]

Tuition discounts at private colleges were already on the rise before the pandemic hit. According to the annual NACUBO Tuition Discounting Study, the 2019-2020 tuition discount rate was about 53% for first-time, full-time, first-year students and about 48% for all undergraduates, which were both record highs.

“I suspect that that trend will continue even more with a pandemic upon us,” Redd says. “We won’t have data until the fall when school starts, but nonetheless it’s obvious that between the tuition discounts and broad-based price reductions, we expect to see a substantial increase in the use of grant aid to support undergraduate students.”

Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for College center.

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