Managing Finances

My Tuition Is Freezing!

By Admissions.com staff

You don’t have to go to a school in Alaska, Minnesota, or Michigan for your tuition to freeze. Tuition freezes have, shockingly, nothing to do with a school’s location. No, a tuition freeze means you’ll pay the same amount for tuition every year for a set number of years (2 or 3) — though room and board will still increase.

The freezes are temporary, and usually implemented by a school (or state) trying to retain students and attract more. They are more common at community colleges and public universities than at private four-year schools. And they also usually require continous, full-time enrollment. Should you drop-out or become part-time, you’ll feel the heat of yearly tuition increases.

Rather than freezing tuition at the same amount for all students, some schools enact level tuition, which feezes tuition for four or more years for each class, but increases tuition for each successive incoming class. This is also known as a guaranteed tuition rate or tuition lock.

So where is it really freezing, tuition-wise? And is a tuition freeze a good idea?

According to FinAid.org, the following schools have enabled temporary tuition freezes: Wheeling Jesuit University for 2009-2010, Cincinnati Christian University for graduate students for 2009-2010, Merrimack College (North Andover, MA) for 2009-2010, and Benedictine University (Lisle, IL) for 2009-2010 (and for 2010-2011 for freshmen entering 2009-2010).

The economy is causing many other schools and states to consider tuition freezes. According to recent news reports, Lake Erie College, a small private college in Painesville, Ohio, will freeze tuition for 2009-2010. But a two-year tuition freeze on community colleges in North Dakota was recently defeated in the North Dakota state senate, and college presidents in Kentucky say that a tuition freeze there is unlikely, though tuition increases will probably be smaller. The idea is being debated in other states, including Texas.

Meanwhile, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm has expressed desire for a  continued tuition freeze in Michigan state schools, but university trustees there say keeping tuition frozen is not likely unless they are able to get some help from the recently passed federal stimulus bill.

Critics of tuition freezes, such as this student from Brown University, say it’s essentially unnecessary. Wealthy students don’t need a freeze (though their parents might argue with that), while those who get financial aid are unaffected, since their families’ expected contribution will remain unchanged.

And not all college presidents — not even public college presidents — are behind tuition freezing. Lake Superior State University President Rodney Lowman and others have said that freezing tuition without more state money doesn’t help colleges handle the rising costs of energy or health care, and that there would then be fewer need-based scholarships from these schools should they be forced to freeze tuition without additional funding.

Tuition freezes can also lead to a sort of “feast-or-famine” cycle. A temporary freeze keeps costs low, but when it’s over, it can heat up more quickly than students and their families expect. And if schools use level tuition, it can mean one class is paying significantly more than the previous class.

So our advice: if your school does enact a tuition freeze, handle with care, stay alert to the end-date, and read the fine print.

Article courtesy of Admissions.com and FastWeb.com.

Recent Articles

Get our newsletter

Email Submitted

Weekly Tips to Help Your Student Succeed