Tuition Free, When Feasible

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USA Today reports that, thanks to the recession, there’s now cost cutting at colleges everywhere, even at schools that have no cost, at least for students. According to an article by Jack Gillum:

Even as the price tag of a four-year college degree outpaces inflation, a handful of U.S. colleges and universities are going to extraordinary lengths to contain costs — by picking up full tuition for every student they enroll.

Most colleges offering free tuition are military academies; several are engineering schools, where graduates are in short supply and demand is great.

I wrote before about the efforts of Larry Shinn to keep costs down at his tuition-free Berea College. Well apparently for some schools the pressures of the recession have proven too much. Olin College in Neeham, Mass. will no longer offer all students free tuition. Instead, according to the Gillum article, Olin “will switch to half-tuition scholarships beginning this fall.” Students will now, for the first time, have to pay $19,000 a year for tuition at Olin.

According to the school, the $19,000 tuition charge is a temporary and unfortunate fix for the school’s financial problems:

Olin is committed to meeting the full demonstrated need of families seeking financial aid and to restoring the scholarship to 100 percent as soon as financial conditions allow. The Class of 2015 would be able to benefit from this change if it comes to pass while they are here.

We’ll see how long it takes Olin to get back to free tuition. Lots of America state colleges and universities used to offer free tuition and a few private schools used to offer instruction in exchange for manual labor. But when financial trouble caused schools to halt the practice, most never brought it back.[Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer