Lesley University Rolls Out An Interesting New Tuition Model

The school is lowering tuition and financial aid so that their sticker price more closely reflects the real cost of attending.

Lesley University in Cambridge has rolled out a new method to keep the interest of prospective students who are stressed about the rising cost of education. The school is lowering their tuition and at the same time reducing their financial aid packages proportionally so that the sticker price more closely reflects what most students end up paying.

“Our high list price intimidates many students and parents, and we need to change that to continue to serve an economically diverse student body,” Lesley’s president Joseph Moore said in a press release on the school’s site.  Lesley’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences currently charges $32,000 in tuition, but going forward, they’ll charge $24,000.

Moore notes, rightly, that this is less a solution to the problems of cost in higher education and more a slight change in the way Lesley presents itself to prospective students. One imagines that this model works chiefly because, as they note in the press release, the “vast majority” of Lesley students receive financial aid, and that it wouldn’t make sense if their student body included a whole lot of paying customers.   The tiered pricing system that offers need-based aid only to those who need it means schools can collect a huge sticker price from more price-insensitive students from wealthier backgrounds and use their huge financial aid resources to send the most disadvantaged students through school for basically no charge. It seems Lesley is basically giving up on the idea of collecting $32,000 from students who can pay it in exchange for the benefit of not scaring away the huge majority of students who cannot (and would not be asked to) pay the full price.