Inside Higher Ed, A New Model for a New Reality:
St. John's College administrators insisted they were going against the grain last year when they announced that tuition was being reduced from $52,000 to $35,000.
The leaders of the private liberal arts college contended they were different from other institutions embracing tuition resets and being criticized for taking part in what some consider a misleading pricing gimmick. St. John’s would make up for the loss of tuition revenue not by increasing enrollment or reducing financial aid, but by using a new financial model based on raising more donor dollars -- $300 million more.
Just one year later, St. John’s leaders say they’re already seeing indicators that their big bet may be paying off. A record 1,414 students applied for admission for this year’s freshman class, the first to enroll under the new pricing plan.
The college, which has campuses in Annapolis, Md., and Santa Fe, N.M., has raised $205 million in commitments toward the $300 million goal. More than $1 million came from gifts under $5,000, a first for the institution. The support will help the college “maintain an affordable tuition price and allocate significant resources to support students with real financial need,” according to the fundraising campaign. ...
St. John's is the third-oldest college in the country and a unique and respected institution with small classes, no-frills campuses and a curriculum focused exclusively on the so-called Great Books. The college is promoting the new pricing initiative as an alignment of its values “of offering an honest education at an honest price” and outlines the reasoning behind it in detail on its fundraising campaign website.
“I think this is a game changer,” Bill Hall, founder and president of Applied Policy Research Inc., an enrollment and pricing advising firm, said of the funding framework. “They’re not just talking; St. John’s is really shifting the financial burden on families.” Hall said a lack of transparency in the true costs of college has long frustrated parents trying to pay for their children’s college education.