PAUL SMITHS — Paul Smith’s College is freezing its tuition rates for all current and incoming students starting in the fall semester as it aims to increase enrollment.
Interim college President Dan Kelting said this decision took “careful consideration,” but he is confident not raising tuition rates will boost enrollment numbers and keep the college slightly more affordable at a time when the price of higher education is rising.
“By breaking away from the national trend of continuously raising tuition, we ensure that rising costs don’t stop an individual from attending,” Kelting said in a statement.
The college’s tuition rate for undergraduates is $32,048, according to Kelting.
Kelting said it’s ultimately the college board of trustees’ authority to set tuition rates. Traditionally, college leadership proposes increases to the rate each year — an average of a 3% increase annually, according to data provided by the college — which the board then approves. But this year, Kelting and his college cabinet chose to recommend a freeze instead, and the board agreed.
Kelting said he hopes this will make attending PSC more attainable for people who it has been out of reach for.
“As the only four-year college in the Adirondacks, we want to continue to be the leader in the region and the country in providing our one-of-a-kind educational experience to any student regardless of their economic background,” he said in a statement.
Kelting also said he believes this tuition freeze will complement the college’s recruitment efforts.
The college has faced a pretty consistent trend of declining enrollment for a decade. Last year, Kelting said lower enrollment meant lower revenue for the private college. When he was named as the interim president in November, he said one of his main goals was to reverse that trend.
“We believe the tuition freeze will drive strong growth for the college’s enrollment and bottom line,” Kelting said in a statement. “There are a number of recent reports that found that the cost of college remains of paramount concern for prospective students and their families.”
He cited a recent report entitled “How America Pays for College” by the banking corporation Sallie Mae and conducted by the market research company Ipsos which shows that 81% of families “eliminated a school from consideration based on cost.”
“The goal of the tuition freeze is to address those very cost concerns by prospective students and their families,” Kelting said. “Higher education is still the key to economic and social mobility and we want to make sure any interested student has access to our world-class hands-on education.”
Even with a tuition freeze, he said “increased enrollment will improve the college’s fiscal stability.” Kelting said the college also has a broader enrollment strategy that includes expansions in high demand programs in areas like clean energy and culinary.
This freeze is planned for an indefinite amount of time.
“The college will reassess as it begins it planning for the coming years, but there currently is no immediate plan to increase tuition in the future,” Kelting said.
The college has also begun to work with the educational nonprofit Fedcap Group as it awaits approval for a pending affiliation with the organization from its accreditors. Fedcap’s stated mission is lifting people out of poverty and one of its ways of doing that is through educational partnerships like the one it is working on finalizing with PSC, Kelting said in the past.
Kelting said PSC has a focus on trainings in clean energy, culinary, forestry and natural sciences, which are all “high-demand sectors.”
Kelting pointed out that U.S. News and World Report ranks PSC as the fifth best value college in the North region of the country — Maryland and Pennsylvania up to Maine — and the top college in the region for undergraduate teaching.
“We want to build on that momentum with this new tuition freeze and our already generous financial aid packages,” he said.
In recent months, several dozen high-profile colleges have ended their participation with the U.S. News and World Report rankings, saying the system does not accurately depict the higher education landscape and discourages colleges from pushing students toward public service jobs, in favor of gaming their spot on the rankings.
U.S. News announced in January that it would be making changes to its ranking system in response.
The college’s undergraduate tuition rate is at $32,048. The College Board nonprofit organization lists the national average tuition rate for private colleges at $39,400.
That sets the tuition rate PSC is freezing at around 20% lower than the national average.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the average tuition cost for private universities has more than doubled in the past decade, and risen more than $6,000 since 2018.
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