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Rising Cost of College

Updated: Wednesday, February 12 2014, 10:06 AM CST

Everywhere you turn reports suggest the cost of a college education is rising. But is it really? In a special report tonight our news correspondent Frank Fraboni blows the cover off the secret when it comes to college pricing.

Picking a college can be alot like buying a car.

"It must have been some sticker shock?  Oh yeah, definitely,"Anna Dillon, a student at Mars Hill University agrees,

Anna Dillon of Hendersonville chose Mars Hill Univesity where they list their tuition at $11,576 per semester. Once you add in food and housing and the yearly cost is listed at $34,184, but the sticker shock isn't limited to private universities.
"I get actually all of my tuition paid by grants and scholarships from UNC Asheville and also from the Federal Government," says one Mars Hill student.  

Freshman Luna Rutkowski is one of the lucky ones at the state supported public university UNCA's published rates: $3,120.50 per semester for in-state residents and $10,031.50 for out of state students.  The total yearly sticker price for an in-state student after adding meals, housing and fees:  $14,213.   

Pierce Holloway who's also a freshman at UNCA says, "I know some people that got lucky and got scholarships and grants."

He paid full price and says he's defintiely in the minority.

And he's right. According to UNCA's fact book more than 66% of its 3,587 students recieved financial aid with the average award being more than $10,000.  Aid that amounts to a huge discount!

"And yes we have to publish a price and yes it's out there, but 98 percent of our population, 98 percent of 1226 last fall, 98 percent didn't pay that," Mars Hill University President Dr. Dan Lunsford says.

A discount for even greater numbers of students at private universities like Mars Hill. The University president is the first to admit it's a lot like buying a car.

But how many of us will routinely go to any car dealership and go in expecting to pay the sticker price?"

Dr. Lunsford says students and parents have come to expect a discount saying "families are expecting that their child or their student deserves monies just because."

Because they have good grades, are top in their class, or have athletic talent.
"Collegiate cycling is starting to pick up."

 "So we are in this model of where we have a price.  That price is to reflect our investment in that financial aid."

Dr. Lunsford says endowments created for scholarships that often target certain disciplines are part of the reason for the inflated sticker price.

He says removing the endowments and financial aid would hurt the school's growth and student opportunities for something he says is well worth it.

 "The economic capacity and ability of people is always going to be increased by elevating their level of education."

An education whose price may seem a little confusing.

 "I think it's kind of decieving obviously.  People prepare for a certain amount of money because school is very expensive, " he went on to say.

"What's frustrating is the criteria on which you get the money, like if you can play a sport or something like that.  I'm here purely for academic reasons but there are athletes that are getting more money than I am."

Money for a price tag that shouldn't keep you from at least trying.

"Unequivocally.  You are exactly right.  Because what we always say to families is yes this is our sticker price but  don't be alarmed, let us work with you based on data you give us and we'll show you what the net cost will be."

To give you an example of just how endowments alter the pricing picture, Mars Hill University has 197 endowed scholarships and this year about $1.5 million will flow from those endowments to pay for tuition discounts.   

Rising Cost of College

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