News & Insights

Sewanee Unity March by Stephen Alvarez

Does a school ever lower its tuition?

Over at the University of the South (commonly called "Sewanee"), that's what they're doing -- cutting total student charges (tuition plus room plus board) by about 10 percent. 

There's a well-written article about Sewanee's price cut here by Scott Jaschik, the excellent reporter at Inside Higher Ed. But Jaschik's reporting is almost outshone by an easy-to-miss letter to the editor appended to the bottom of the article. In that letter, Miami University president emeritus Jim Garland offers his take on what's behind the tuition cut, and some important considerations for other schools that are thinking of taking this drastic step.

Here's a portion of Garland's letter:

Sewanee's decision to cut tuition by 10 percent reflects basic economic principles that, unfortunately, are not well appreciated by many private college administrations. In essence, Sewanee aims to pump up its enrollments by cutting tuition, hoping that its total revenues will increase, even though each student pays lower tuition. This strategy will be successful only if certain conditions are met:

  • The school must have a very tuition-sensitive applicant pool...
  • The school must have reserve capacity in its student body...
  • The marginal cost of educating each additional student must be lower than the average cost of educating that student...

It is essential to analyze carefully any proposed tuition change in terms of its fiscal implications. Any private college, especially the thinly endowed schools operating in a highly competitive environment, which fails to do so are headed straight for the bankruptcy court. 

Read the full article here. Be sure to scroll down to read the entire letter by Jim Garland, where he explains his bullet points in greater detail.


Image credit

Top Topics

Roles & Responsibilities



Board Essentials

Upcoming Events

The In Trust Center hosts learning community spaces throughout the year. Check out our upcoming events below.

Closing the Trust Gap


The current and very troubling condition of trust is a clarion call to action. But despite the dismal data showing pervasive organizational distrust, every organization can assess their current level of trust, learn and adopt a proven trust building framework, and then develop a meaningful and long-lasting plan of action. This webinar details the knowledge and practical next steps to strengthen workplace culture as a result of closing the trust gap.

In Trust Center Resource Grants


An In Trust Center Resource Grant offers member schools a chance to explore innovation at their institutions through a matching grant opportunity of up to $15,000. Listen to this 30-minute information session, including Q&A, as we provide details on eligibility requirements, funding priorities, application process. Previous grantees are eligible to apply as long as they are not within our current funding cycle.

Conflict + Crisis: Navigating the Shoals, Part 2 – A Deeper Dive


Presenter Donna Alexander, President & CEO of Advoxum Global Strategies, offers best practices for navigating conflict and crisis. She examines the crucial elements of defining conflict and crisis, identifying, and prioritizing affected stakeholders, utilizing effective communication strategies, and ultimately, executing a plan of action. Click here to view.

Can’t Find What You’re Looking For?

In Trust Center provides Resource Consulting to our members at no charge. Contact us today and let us guide you to the most helpful resources for your situation.

Contact Us