Privates Matching Public Prices

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Published by Inside Higher Ed


Net revenue calculations can be straightforward for tuition-matching programs, said Craig Goebel, a principal at Art & Science Group, a consulting firm. Both Robert Morris and Oglethorpe likely know how many students they are drawing from each state or public university and how much they are currently charging those students after all forms of financial aid.

If something unexpected does happen, the structure of the programs can be tweaked for the future, changing standardized test score requirements to limit the number of students who qualify in future cohorts, for example.

“There are fairly easy ways to adjust it moving forward without having to reset tuition or move to a different marketing message,” Goebel said. “If in year one or year two, you start to see a significant increase in students or decrease in net revenue, it’s fairly simple to alter the paradigm.”

Tuition-matching programs can grab attention in a market, but they can’t be the only way a private university is selling itself to students, said another Art & Science principal, Rick Hesel. Few students are going to believe they will have the same experience at a small private university that they would at a large public flagship, even if the price is comparable.

“This ought to go along with saying, ‘We’re doing this because we want students to have the experience at Oglethorpe,’ and define what that experience is,” Hesel said.

If the experience of other institutions trying price matching is any indication, the programs can be used to boost enrollment. But they don’t provide spike after spike.


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