As colleges and universities fight to attract a dwindling cohort of students to their institutions, one major obstacle standing in their way is their price tag.
The cost of a college education is a primary source of stress for students and parents applying for college and among those already enrolled. Additionally, The State of Higher Education 2023 report found that the cost of a degree or credential was the main roadblock inhibiting U.S. adults from enrolling.
As a result, several colleges, universities and systems have recently approved tuition freezes to offset burdening students with more of a financial commitment. When Utah Gov. Spencer Cox proposed this strategy to the Utah Legislature ahead of the 2023 general session, he noted that increases in tuition and fees are outpacing inflation and median household incomes.
Purdue, for example, has agreed to its twelfth consecutive year of freezing tuition, set below $10,000. The university estimates that this decision has saved students more than $1 billion on educational and living expenses since 2013. Additionally, the University of Vermont estimates that its fifth year of tuition freezes will save students $163 million.
However, unless an institution receives an exorbitant amount of tuition revenue or handsome endowment awards, most public institutions cannot afford to set a tuition freeze without state funding. And that’s precisely what three college systems have recently received, signaling a rejuvenation in state support for higher education.
This past Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott approved a record $1.19 billion in new spending for the Texas A&M University System, according to KBTX. A huge component of that package, which is the first ever to eclipse $1 billion in new state funding for the state, will go toward freezing tuition and fees for residents.
“It was a team effort, but the Regents, in particular, were focused on keeping college affordable in Texas,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “Our students and their families will reap the benefits of their efforts.”
Similarly, the University of Alabama System in June announced it would be freezing tuition and fees across its three institutions, which Gov. Kay Ivey made possible by signing the Education Trust Fund Bill, appropriating $672 million for the UA System. Minnesota’s state legislature also invested $292 million into its state colleges and university system. This decision comes at the heels of last month’s decision to make college tuition free for Minnesota residents whose families make less than $80,000 a year.
However, freezing tuition may not be the end-all-be-all solution to making college more attractive to potential students. The Hechinger Report found that tuition freezes net costs for the institution’s wealthiest student while raising it for lower-income students who need the most assistance. The Hechinger Report also found that tuition freezes can affect an institution’s ability to.