How $47,000 tuition wasn't enough to keep one college open

Written by
Peter Dunn
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When a surprising piece of news comes across my desk, I can't help but latch on to it. I have to understand what's going on. That's exactly how I felt when I heard the news about Sweet Briar College, which was founded in 1901, will be closing it's doors at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. With $47,000 a year per student in tuition, how is it possible this college can't make it work?

Here is the low-down on the Sweet Briar College closing: Tuition is $47,000. They enroll just over 700 students. The school has an 84 million endowment. The President of the college says they need $250 million to stay open.

To help me (and you) understand this phenomenon, I enlisted Sam Waterson of RHB to help me out. RHB serves the higher ed sector in a marketing capacity and Sam is their executive vice president and creative director.

The endowment is apparently so restricted (for scholarships, etc.) the college is unable to use the majority of it for daily use. To me, it seems the $47,000 tuition per student would be enough to run a school, but Sam disagreed. Apparently if you took the total cost to run a college and divided it by the number of students, the cost of tuition would be even higher than it already is. But is it the students' responsibility to fund the school's entire budget? I've got an opinion. Sam's got an opinion.

Listen to the rest of our conversation in this Pete the Planner Radio Show segment:

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