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Carthage College Cutting Tuition 30 Percent

Officials At Private School Say They Want Transparency In What Students Pay

Carthage College
Carthage College. Photo courtesy of Carthage College

Carthage College in Kenosha is planning to lower its tuition 30 by percent for the 2020-21 academic year.

Officials at the private college made the announcement Tuesday, saying they would reduce tuition to $31,500 in hopes the lower amount would provide less “sticker shock” for prospective students. Current tuition at Carthage College is $45,100.

The change will apply to all new and returning undergraduate students.

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“Too often families rule out Carthage based solely on the advertised tuition rate, not realizing that our generous financial assistance makes the college as great a fit financially for their student as it is academically,” said Carthage President John Swallow.

Swallow said this isn’t being done because enrollment at Carthage has dropped. In fact, two years ago, Carthage had record enrollment. Applications are currently up 20 percent.

Instead, Carthage wants to be transparent, Swallow said.

“We don’t want students to be scared away by the opportunities that we are offering because they are scared off by the sticker price,” Swallow said. “I do think a lot of schools will rethink the high price, high discount model of having a very high price that practically no family can pay and then having very large discounts where you finally get to what it will cost.”

In addition, the price for room and board will not increase for the upcoming year.

Nearly 100 percent of Carthage’s 2,800 students receive financial assistance, according to the school. Based on current tuition, students paid an average of $15,800 per year, according to the school.

The total cost of tuition is set individually for each student and depends on a number of factors, including their academic profile, family income and competition in Carthage’s numerous scholarship programs.

Last year, the school awarded more than $20 million in scholarships.

Rolf Wegenke, who heads the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU), which represents 24 schools in the state, said what Carthage is doing could become a trend among private colleges.

Carthage is the first private school in the state to significantly drop its price.

Marian University in Fond du Lac and Bellin College in Green Bay have lowered their tuition prices slightly. Starting last year, Edgewood College in Madison offered to lower tuition for students meeting certain academic criteria.

“The whole college cost issue is very difficult for the average person to understand, particularly how financial aid works,” Wegenke said. “People always have a tendency to look at the sticker price, just like when buying a car, but very few people pay that. This will add clarity and that is a good thing.”

According to the latest WAICU data, the average sticker price for private colleges in the state is $33,034 per year. The average freshman financial aid package is $28,010, bringing their average-out-of-pocket tuition cost to just over $5,000.

Nick Mulvey, vice president for enrollment, said Carthage will continue to offer needs-based and merit-based financial aid to students.

Financial aid packages for 2020-21 will be adjusted in line with the new tuition.