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50 colleges seeking fall students -- and offering discounts

It's not too late to get into a good school this fall, and you may get a good deal on tuition.

By Money Staff Jun 2, 2014 2:26PM

This post comes from Matt Schifrin at partner site on MSN MoneyLast year at about this time I published a list of 50 well-regarded colleges that had reported to the National Association of College Admissions Counseling that they had not filled up their freshman classes, despite the traditional May 1 deadline passing. These schools were thus hungry for students and were offering cash rewards to acceptable applicants.

Stack of Library Books © Fuse, Fuse, Getty ImagesNACAC’s  new 2014 "College Openings Update" list is out and there are a whopping 470 colleges listed as still urgently seeking either freshman or transfers students. This large and growing list of colleges that are unable to attract enough students is an alarming reminder of how troubled and inefficient the market for higher education is in the U.S.

The vast majority of colleges continue to engage in "prestige" pricing, but ultimately are forced to quietly offer deep discounts in an attempt to fill up their classes. Then, when even that doesn’t work, hundreds report that they still can’t find enough "customers."

Economics 101 tells us that either college admissions officers and their consultants are inept, or more likely, that the supply of schools offering college degrees needs to drastically shrink. But don’t hold your breath waiting for colleges to go bankrupt en masse; history shows that these government subsidized institutions can linger on for years even when their financial statements bleed red ink. (If you want to see the Forbes Financial Health Grade of your Alma-mater, click here.)

As 18th century British nobleman Baron Rothschild once said, the time to buy is "when there’s blood in the streets." He was referring to stocks, but the same holds true for those in the market for college bargains.

This slide show contains the names of 50 colleges that are lucky enough to have earned a spot in The 2014 Princeton Review Best 378 Colleges guide. Unfortunately, these great schools have also voluntarily placed themselves on NACAC’s list of colleges still in need of freshman and transfer student applicants for the coming term. Unlucky for them, but lucky for anyone with high school teens, looking for a top value school. Virtually all of the private-not-for-profits on our top 50 list offer deep tuition discounts, and not just for those with financial need.

In many cases, excellent liberal arts colleges like Knox College in Illinois, Lawrence University in Wisconsin and Wheaton College in Massachusetts offer tuition discounts to 80 percent or more of their accepted applicants. Our list of the top 50 is ranked in descending order according to average SAT scores, based on a 1600 tally of average math and critical reading scores. Needy colleges with undergraduate populations lower than 500 were excluded from our list.

Last year our top college was Sarasota’s New College of Florida, an excellent liberal arts and science public school with great weather and a 10-to-1 student to faculty ratio. It remains near the top of our list but from a selectivity standpoint the two top spots belong to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York and State University of New York at Binghamton. Sarah Lawrence has a reputation for attracting smart, artsy students, with a serious left-of-center bias. There are no exams or required courses, and SAT scores are optional. Notable alums include Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, designer Vera Wang and film and TV director J.J. Abrams.

I was surprised to find out that SUNY Binghamton didn’t fill up its Class of 2018. Back when I was growing up on Long Island the smartest kids in my high school knew that outside of Cornell University’s three public colleges, Binghamton and Albany were generally regarded as top notch and acceptances were coveted. That was more than 30 years ago and apparently SUNY Binghamton has been replaced by smaller and more picturesque SUNY Geneseo as the hot New York State public college.

Other excellent public schools looking for freshman include the University of Florida, University of Vermont, Arizona State and City University of New York’s Bernard M. Baruch College. Among the private-not-for profits, Gonzaga still has room as does Baylor University in Texas and liberal arts mecca Mills College, located in the foothills of Oakland, Calif.

While we only included 50 of Princeton Review’s Best Colleges from among NACAC’s needy 470, at least another 20, including NYC’s St. John’s University, Alfred University in upstate New York and Green Mountain College in Vermont are looking for freshman applicants.

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Jun 19, 2014 4:05AM
Those higher education fools got so foolish they can no longer find people to pay those foolish tuition prices!  So now they deeply discounting are they?  I remember when I enrolled in the University of South Florida back in 1983.  They argued that I had to pay out of state tuition because I wasn't a resident of Florida!  I countered that if I wasn't a resident of Florida, then which state was I a resident of (Florida was the only one baby!), and if I wasn't a resident of any state then how could I be an American?  That didn't fly but I remembered  voting by absentee ballot through the local county while living abroad for those several years I was not living in Floida!  I had those dirt bags (fools) where I wanted them after that!  What really bothers me was that I was obviously a Florida resident at the time while they were trying to rip me off for out of state tuition but now they want to let the children of illegal immigrants pay in state tuition.  There is no justice in the country!  I hope those fools choke on their empty class rooms!
Jun 19, 2014 9:37AM
Apparently quite a few of the commentors here are failing to recognize the difference between "physical residence" and one's place of "legal residence" or domicile. The person who said it was about the money is correct. It has very little to do with education or even doing what common sense dictates. It it about promoting worthless irrelevant BS degrees and leaving unsuspecting students in massive debt with no reasonable hope of ever paying it off.
Jun 19, 2014 8:35AM
Remember everyone! It's about the money not the education! If it was about education then we would have had a great education system in place. We don't... That's the facts!
Jun 19, 2014 8:52AM
The vast majority of people in college have no business being there.  But because the 'gubmint' got involved in funding higher education, the costs went through the roof.  Until we get our tax dollars OUT of higher education, there will still be too many schools offering 'diplomas for dollars' and graduating people who are incompetent.
Jun 19, 2014 9:24AM

Sounds like to me the sheeple are wising up/waking up. Why spend the price of what a new home costs on an education only to wind up flippin burgers at their local Micky D's?

We have circled the drain long enough. We are right on the verge of being sucked down the $hitter pipe right into the cesspool of 3rd worldism. Hold on tight sheeple, it's gonna be one helluva rough ride.

Jun 19, 2014 9:51AM
Why wasnt Purdue University mentioned? Purdue has not raised tuition for 3 years. The colleges mentioned in this story are expensive regardless of discount. 4 years at Purdue cost about 1 year at most of the private colleges in this story.
Jun 19, 2014 1:05PM
There plenty of low-cost degree programs available at reputable colleges. Many community colleges are now offering their own accredited BAS programs which is where I earned my degree. The cost was less than $30k for 4.5 years so I didn't need loans as Financial Aid covered it. I worked part time before getting hired on at the company I interned for. Once I graduated, I was paid an additional 30%. Within 3 years, I was making 60% more than I did before I went to college. I was recently promoted and now make over 150% more per year than I did before college. So, I understand where some people are coming from when they say a degree is worthless or that higher education is a racket, but typically those same people are the classic underachievers always blaming employers or the government for their inability to excel their careers and provide for themselves. Employers use your resume as a tool for deciding if you might be a good candidate for a position. When a resume of HS drop outs come across my desk, I typically toss them not because I think the person is stupid, but because I see a person who may have an issue completing assignments and adhering to policy. When I see a college graduate, I see someone who spent 4+ years of their life dedicated to earning a degree that they are not required by law to earn. Graduates typically have formed decent organization skills, time management skills and have the ability to critically analyze situations. I don't care if a person's degree is in underwater basket weaving. I just want to know that the person can be successful at something. Of course this doesn't mean that a drop out or someone who didn't go to college isn't successful or capable. I didn't go to college until I was 26 and I thought I was doing ok...I just wanted better, not just ok. But when you are sorting through hundreds of resumes for one position in a tight job market, you have to set some guidelines as to which resume goes in the trash versus those you want to take a closer look at. I also trash the resume if I see a person has had numerous non-temporary positions in one year.   
Jun 19, 2014 12:48PM
If tuition costs still matched inflation, going to college wouldn’t be the debt machine it’s become. That’s why our undergraduate degrees didn’t put us in hock from Day One. We had it good. (Arizona, 1982) The people in charge then were farsighted and considered the future. Today those running the show are greedy and focus solely on now. (To wit: if repaying college loans equal mortgage payments, how can graduates buy houses or condos? By the time the debt is settled, most opportunities for home ownership would likely be out of reach. A situation that worsens as it goes down the line.) The main problem is we’re the ones running the present show. Seems we didn’t learn much.
Aug 4, 2014 4:23PM

Why go to college or educate yourself further when the Gov't offers free housing and medical to those who are purposely unfortunate.


Jun 19, 2014 9:38AM
No one without acceptable SAT scores should go to any college, complete waste of a country's resources. Make it about 1/3 of population, based on IQ of 105 and up, no one with just 100 should go they never succeed anyway, IE they drop out or they fail the interviews for jobs later if I talk to them about 5 minutes--Get real USA, and have the rest of population trained in apprentices (far better than they do  now, like northern EU each type for 4-5 years) and also for regular child care, elder care and of course regular hospital care givers (basic psychology). And then educate the enormous police and prison guard police people in special schools, since most are not qualified for college. Then the last 1/3 for fire fighters and garbage town maintenance, but give them some humanitarian education so they are not walking around like now like zombies!
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