Guilford College introduces fixed-price tuition plan | Local News

GREENSBORO — Add Guilford College to the list of schools trying to do something about rising college prices.

The private liberal arts college this fall introduced a fixed-price tuition plan that’s similar to the program that the UNC system rolled out a year ago.

Guilford is calling it the 4-1-0 Plan and marketing it with the tag line of “four years, one price, no worries.”

Under the fixed-tuition plan, “there are no surprises and no increases in tuition later on,” said Arlene Wesley Cash, the college’s vice president of enrollment management. “(Families) can plan. We thought they deserved that continuity.”

Before the school year began, Guilford College raised tuition rates slightly for the 2017-18 year — by 1 percent for rising seniors, 2 percent for juniors, 3 percent for sophomores and 4 percent for new first-year and transfer students.

First-year students pay the highest tuition — $17,529 per semester, or $35,058 per year. They’ll pay that same price for as long as they stay at Guilford.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors pay slightly less. Their tuition rates also are fixed for their entire tenures at Guilford.

Guilford’s new plan doesn’t freeze a student’s entire college bill. The college puts the total cost of attendance for first-year students this year at $50,770 — a figure that includes fees, books, a dorm room and a meal plan as well as personal, travel and other expenses. Those expenses could increase each year.

Cash noted that all Guilford students get some sort of academic scholarship or financial aid, which means they don’t actually pay the full cost of attending Guilford.

Guilford’s 4-1-0 plan is similar to the fixed tuition program that the UNC system started in 2016 for its in-state students, but with a couple of differences.

Guilford won’t raise tuition for students who leave school for a semester or two and come back. It also won’t raise tuition for students who need extra semesters to graduate. The UNC system plan raises rates if a student leaves school for more than a semester and for students who take more than four years to earn a degree.

As higher education prices continue to rise, colleges are trying several different tactics to slow the increases.

North Carolina is the second state after Illinois to set a guaranteed tuition plan for all in-state students at public universities. Similar plans in Oklahoma and Texas are optional.

Elsewhere, some colleges are opting for temporary tuition freezes — something Guilford did a year ago — or cutting their prices dramatically and offering less financial aid. Belmont Abbey College, the private Catholic college near Charlotte, cut tuition by a third in 2013 and instituted a fixed-tuition plan last fall.

Cash said Guilford has received positive feedback from students and families about the 4-1-0 plan. Another positive has been on enrollment. Cash said the fixed-tuition plan helped the college enroll a higher-than-usual percentage of North Carolina students who had been accepted by Guilford and other colleges.

“We have an increasing number of students who are challenged (by college prices),” Cash said. “We didn’t want to be out of their reach, and we wanted to maintain the quality of the (college) experience. That was important to us.”

Contact John Newsom at 336-373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.