NEW YORK (Credit.com) — With many college students and their families concerned over mounting tuition costs, student loans and other related higher education expenses, private universities across the country are feeling pressure to make college more affordable. It’s unclear how they’ll respond.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, professionals at colleges and universities nationwide are noticing declining enrollments and a general pessimism toward the value of higher education post-graduation.
While tuition increased at only a marginal rate last year compared with the year before, the newspaper notes that costs still remain too high for many families across the U.S.
One example of a school nervous about enrollment declines is the University of Charleston. The institution’s president, Ed Welch, told the news outlet that more than 10% of students who enrolled at the school for the fall 2011 semester backed out before school began.
“We called every one of those students and asked what happened,” Welch said. “Most of them were having second thoughts about borrowing that much money.”
Several were going to community colleges instead.
John C. Nelson, a managing director at Moody’s Investor Services, told the Journal that many schools are facing similar crises. Name recognition, he said, goes a long way in attracting students. Private colleges and universities that lack that recognition and don’t reduce school costs markedly could see enrollment drop further.
Student loan debt remains one of the biggest issues facing consumers across the nation. During the third quarter of 2012, the amount of student loan debt jumped more than $40 billion from the second quarter. The total reached $956 billion in the three-month period.