Cani­sius tu­ition re­set

The Buffalo News - - CONTINUED FROM THE COVER -

In terms of en­roll­ment, Cani­sius has long been the re­gion’s largest pri­vate col­lege. En­roll­ment climbed above 5,100 stu­dents in 2011, but the col­lege has been shrink­ing ever since. Over­all stu­dent head­count at Cani­sius dropped by 24 per­cent over the past five years, and Ni­a­gara Univer­sity now en­rolls nearly 500 more stu­dents than its ath­let­ics ri­val.

Col­lege of­fi­cials pegged some of the de­cline on a per­cep­tion prob­lem. Too many stu­dents and fam­i­lies were look­ing at the col­lege’s sticker-price tu­ition, which is cur­rently $34,966, and de­cid­ing it was out of reach fi­nan­cially, even though Cani­sius of­fers gen­er­ous dis­counts to most of its stu­dents.

In­stead of big dis­counts, col­lege of­fi­cials de­cided to lower the price. Cani­sius rolled back its tu­ition for 201819 to 2008 lev­els. In­stead of $34,966 or higher, tu­ition will be $27,000.

The big an­nounce­ment has been ac­com­pa­nied in re­cent weeks by a new mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign that em­pha­sizes Cani­sius’ af­ford­abil­ity. Col­lege of­fi­cials ex­pect the new pric­ing model to help turn around the en­roll­ment losses by get­ting Cani­sius on the radar of stu­dents and fam­i­lies who pre­vi­ously would have ruled it out.

“With a 5 per­cent in­crease in fresh­men en­roll­ment, which re­ally is about 30 stu­dents, the pro­gram is just about break-even for us. Ev­ery­thing above that starts to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion,” Hur­ley said. “That’s just year one. As you roll this over four years, then it mul­ti­plies.”

Cani­sius’ en­roll­ment has dipped most dra­mat­i­cally in re­cent years, but all of the re­gion’s colleges and uni­ver­si­ties are in the same boat: Lower birthrates from years ago now mean smaller high school grad­u­at­ing classes.

“There are just flat out fewer stu­dents of col­lege age each year,” said Gary Olson, pres­i­dent of Dae­men Col­lege.

And since tu­ition dol­lars are the main source of rev­enue for area colleges, hit­ting en­roll­ment tar­gets is cru­cial to most schools’ bot­tom lines.

The Com­mis­sion on In­de­pen­dent Colleges and Uni­ver­si­ties in New York es­ti­mated in March that Ex­cel­sior would threaten the vi­a­bil­ity of many of the state’s pri­vate colleges, and lead to thou­sands of job losses statewide. In Western New York, the lobby or­ga­ni­za­tion es­ti­mated an en­roll­ment de­cline of 2,749 stu­dents. It pegged re­gional job losses at 1,377 po­si­tions – or $3.8 mil­lion in lost tax rev­enues.

CICU is­sued a new anal­y­sis Tues­day show­ing that most of the 48 pri­vate colleges and uni­ver­si­ties in New York that en­roll pri­mar­ily state res­i­dents saw en­roll­ment de­clines this fall. Over­all en­roll­ment of first-time fresh­men from New York at those pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions was down by 8 per­cent from 2016, ac­cord­ing to CICU.

Cani­sius for years set tu­ition higher than any of the 20 other colleges and uni­ver­si­ties in Western New York – and was still able to meet its en­roll­ment tar­gets. But that be­gan chang­ing a few years ago. Now, the price cut will move Cani­sius into the mid­dle of the pack in tu­ition for four-year colleges and uni­ver­si­ties in the re­gion. But it also lim­its Cani­sius’ abil­ity to dole out big schol­ar­ships.

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