The Atlantic article titled The Bursting of the College Bubble discussed how enrollments are down at colleges. Some of the reasons include fewer teenagers in the US and more adults staying in the workforce (many went back to school during the Great Recession).
On a practical level, what I took from the article was that families have more room to negotiate with schools than ever. When colleges were flush with applicants and everyone was desperately trying to get into a school, that left less room for negotiating aid packages and discounts. With schools fighting over fewer students, they are more open to negotiating to bring in students that might go elsewhere without a better package.
Just to be clear, this does not apply to top tier schools, such as Harvard and Stanford, where there is still a long line of applicants willing to pay. It is the schools just under the elite that are open to negotiation.
The reality is that colleges are run like businesses. They are trying to maximize revenue. So, they are ready to offer discounts to keep their classes full and attract the right types of students.
In chapter 9 of Never Pay Retail for College, I talk about choosing “right fit” colleges. Choosing schools where our student will apply has the single biggest impact on the overall cost of college for our son or daughter. If we choose schools where our student will fall in the top 25% of the incoming class (based on GPA and test scores), the school will often incentivize our student to choose that school. This is more true now than ever with falling enrollment at colleges.
Knowing how and when to negotiate can often can often save 25-50% off the retail price of a college. If you would like some help planning for, choosing and negotiating with colleges, you can schedule a free consultation. It can help you see how you can pay less for a great college education.