The downturn in the economy has dropped the family income of a typical Augustana student by about $5,000, forcing the school to give out so much more aid that the average freshman is paying $900 less today than last year's freshmen did, even though the published tuition price rose by about $900 to $32,235 this fall, Barnds says. But by handing out more aid, Augustana, which enrolled 618 freshmen in the fall of 2009, enrolled 752 in fall 2010, so the school is receiving more revenue in total, he says.
Barnds admits he and his counterparts at similar private colleges are worried because they can't afford to keep cutting their net prices while offering small classes and expensive amenities such as Augustana's nicely kept forested grounds, free art museum, and free musical performances. "The high price, high discount model cannot continue," he says. But, Barnds adds, it is hard to change when colleges' own scholarship and pricing strategies have taught parents to demand scholarships for their kids. "In March and April, everybody calls and says, 'Where's mine? Don't you value my child?'"
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