Summer Scramble

Career College Central summary:

  • To avoid enrollment shortfalls heading into the summer, some tuition-dependent private colleges are changing how they package financial aid for students. Some colleges are offering more aid upfront to try to avoid shortfalls altogether. Others adjusted swaths of aid packages as it became clear they were unlikely to enroll as many students as they had planned by May 1, the traditional but decreasingly relevant decision day for students going to selective colleges.
  • Even colleges that have successfully met their enrollment goals are worried about poaching by others still looking to meet their goals, and are beginning to offer more tuition discounts to lure students.
  • All are signs of the continued challenges faced especially by tuition-dependent and smaller private colleges, some of which remain under the weather for a variety of reasons, including the rebound of public university budgets and the wariness of some students to graduate with liberal arts degrees that don't seem to offer a clear career path.
  • The National Association for College Admission Counseling keeps a running list of colleges – including major public universities – that are still enrolling students. This can serve as a proxy for finding colleges that have failed to meet their enrollment targets.
  • Such is the case at Widener University, a private institution just outside Philadelphia with about 3,200 undergraduates. Despite a good year in 2013 – it had its largest and most academically accomplished class of first-year students ever – the university has so far missed its enrollment goals for this fall.

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