Bracing for hit
Other area schools said they were unlikely to follow suit on a tuition reset, and some colleges and universities were leaning toward increasing their scholarship awards in an effort to combat free tuition.
St. Bonaventure has experienced two successive years of enrollment growth, but is still down by 7 percent from five years ago. To keep momentum, the university is looking to attract top students with added scholarship money of up to $4,000.
Most families today are looking past sticker price for a bottom-line figure of what it’s going to cost for their child to attend a college, once financial aid is factored in, said St. Bonaventure President Dennis DePerro.
“I think they’re going to find our financial aid package is as attractive as it’s ever been,” he said.
The university didn’t see signs of Excelsior’s impact on 2017 enrollment figures, but university officials anticipate more fallout for 2018.
“We expect that it’s going to hit harder. That’s the primary reason we increased the scholarship awards, particularly for those who qualify for Excelsior,” DePerro said.
At its largest in the late 1980s, St. Bonaventure exceeded 2,800 students. This year, enrollment stands at 2,100. DePerro said the university’s ideal size is probably around 2,400 students. With new programs in the allied health professions in the development pipeline, DePerro expects to get to that