Columbia College, already considered a national value, will reduce its annual tuition by $9,400 to $19,500 for full-time undergraduate students beginning in the 2017-18 academic year, the private college announced.
“Too many students that should be considering Columbia College that would be a great fit, many young women, were just not thinking about us because they thought we were out of reach,” Columbia College president Beth Dinndorf said. “We’ll be able to reach students who felt like we weren’t the institution for them.”
Dinndorf said a twofold process made the tuition decrease possible.
“We are adjusting our scholarship aid,” she said. “Some students were getting a lot of that aid. We’ll still give out scholarships, but we took a look at that and figured out where we could make adjustments without impacting a student’s ability to come to school. … With our lowering our tuition by $9,400 to $19,500, more of a student’s tuition will be covered by federal and state grants.”
Secondly, Dinndorf said, “We plan on recruiting more students and having more students enroll, because they will be attracted now. Now we’ll be looked at by those additional students.”
Columbia College ranked 10th among Southeast colleges in Washington Monthly’s annual “Best Bang for the Buck” list, released in August. That was the highest ranking among South Carolina colleges, both public and private.
Tuition and fees at Columbia College, with an undergraduate enrollment of 1,387, were $28,100 in the 2015-16 academic year, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 rankings, which tied the school for 47th in regional universities in the South. Coker College, a private school in Hartsville with an enrollment of 1,203 ranked 11th by Washington Monthly, was ranked sixth by U.S. News & World Report in that category. Coker had tuition and fees of $27,624 for the 2016-17 academic year, according to the publication.
The University of South Carolina, with an enrollment of 32,972 in 2014, cost $11,482 for in-state residents and $30,298 for out-of-state students in 2015-16, according to the school’s website.
Dinndorf said Columbia College’s tuition decrease allows the school to “be more in line with what that public institutions charge. … It really speaks to what parents and students and the whole country are saying about higher education. It has to be affordable, and we wanted to make it affordable.”