Prestigious Pricing and Marketplace Atrophy

The New York Times produced a story today about the reality of how the published tuition price (which is often set at a “prestigious” price point) can be a genuine obstacle to consideration and selection. Most people pay a “discounted” tuition price, but too many people in the marketplace don’t know about net price. The result is that more and more colleges are thinking about alternatives for defusing misperceptions about the real price, so that more students and families will consider a private college or university.

One of the common considerations for a possible solution is a tuition reset, and the Times reporter, who reached out to me for some background, gathered some very informed insights from Utica College’s president, Laura Casamento, who played an instrumental role in helping Utica implement a strategic initiative rather than a promotional gimmick or tactic. Lawlor Advisory had the privilege of actively collaborating with the Utica leadership team with this initiative, and they have encountered nice success during a tumultuous time for most colleges and universities. Utica’s leadership team also had the foresight to learn more about why, what, and how they should proceed with a successful tuition reset implementation, so they met with the Concordia University, St. Paul leadership team in the Twin Cities. CSP, which is among the fastest growing private colleges in Minnesota, was one of the first to implement a tuition reset and do it in a very successful manner.

Ironically, the New York Times article included a few insights from Moody’s senior vice president Susan Fitzgerald, who recently spoke at our Summer Seminar conference here in Minneapolis, along with economist and author Nathan Grawe and author and senior economics contributor for the public radio program “Marketplace,” Chris Farrell. This year’s conference theme was “The Power of DO,” and in light of existing marketplace conditions, colleges and universities must be much more edupreneurial and engage in doing things in a manner that is genuinely relevant to the reality of the marketplace. If colleges, universities, and leadership choose to be blindsided by the prevalence of prestigious assessment, then enrollment and revenues will atrophy.