Private College Tuition Discounts Hit Record High

May 25, 2021
by Izzy Hall
Private College Tuition Discounts Hit Record High

College seems to get more expensive every year, and private, non-profit schools generally have higher sticker prices on their tuition than publicly-owned colleges and universities. But behind the scenes, private colleges are offering their incoming students higher and higher tuition discounts. In the 2020-2021 school year, tuition discounts at private colleges reached an all-time high as schools tried new ways to attract students to enroll during the pandemic.


According to a new study, the average tuition discount rate for incoming students was 53.9 percent during the 2020-2021 school year. That means for every $100 charged to a student in tuition, $53.9 of that money was not actually collected by the college. These savings are a noticeable increase from 2019-2020’s average tuition discount rate of 51.2%. The study suggests that rising pressures to fill classes during the pandemic led to schools greatly increasing tuition discounts for incoming students.

Pandemic-spurred tuition discounts in the 2020-2021 school year also affected currently-enrolled sophomores, juniors and seniors. On average, the tuition discount rate for upperclassmen rose to 48.1 percent, up 2.2 points from 2019-2020’s discount rate.

When calculating tuition discounts, the study took into consideration all kinds of institutional aid provided by a college, including institutional scholarships, fellowships and grants. But it’s likely that incoming students saved even more money on their college tuition when scholarships offered by outside organizations are taken into account.

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