Despite the student debt crisis, a new survey finds that high school seniors choose high-cost, high-amenity colleges.
Campus luxuries such as climbing walls, omelete bars, lazy rivers, and condo-style dorms are sometimes blamed for ........
Campus luxuries such as climbing walls, omelete bars, lazy rivers, and condo-style dorms are sometimes blamed for the escalating expense of four-year, residential education in the United States. For decades, universities have competed for potential students’ attention by selling free computers and state-of-the-art gyms.
According to a recent study of high school students, many still desire these facilities and are ready to pay (and borrow) for them. Despite the fact that Gen Z’s elders are saddled with $1.75 trillion in school debt, this is the case.
Art & Science Group, a higher education consulting and research organization, conducted online interviews with 786 high school seniors in the United States who expect to attend full-time in a four-year college or university this autumn in February. When asked if they would choose a less expensive university with less amenities and services if other academic aspects were equal, just 39% of students replied yes. A larger percentage (44%) stated they would prefer a more costly, academically equivalent school with more facilities and services if it had more amenities and services.
“There are legitimate concerns about the escalating prices of higher education. The impact on families, particularly those starting out on a lesser income, is significant. But, in general, we haven’t reached a tipping point,” said David Strauss, a principal at Art & Science Group and study co-author. “A large portion of the media claims that higher education is forcing something on people that they don’t want or that isn’t good for them, but the major market says, ‘Yes, but we want more and are prepared to pay more for it.’”
The Art & Science Group did not poll the children’ parents.As the typical May 1 deadline for seniors to commit to a single institution approaches, it’s unclear what impact the teens’ relative price insensitivity may have in family talks.
The elders weren’t completely unconcerned about money. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they were concerned about their capacity to pay for college, and another 22 percent said they were extremely concerned. College affordability was cited as a serious worry by more black, Hispanic, and first-generation college students.
After institutional and government grants are taken into account, the average net price — the total amount students and families pay out of pocket — has climbed relatively slowly. The average inflation-adjusted net price at public institutions increased from $12,760 in 2006 to $14,590 in 2021. The net price of private universities went from $27,460 in 2006 to $28,610 in 2021.
The authors also asked if students would still hold their top pick colleges in high regard if they were underfunded and less expensive. Respondents were asked to assess their first and second-choice schools on a 10-point scale, assuming the schools had reduced facilities and costs.
Ratings dropped across the board. The average rating for high amenity colleges was 9.4, while they obtained a 7.2. Institutions with medium amenities declined from an 8.7 to a 7.6.
“When you take away some of the perks, the youngsters become less and less interested in the institution,” Strauss explained. “The market hasn’t shown enough interest in paying less to accept a worse experience in exchange for cheaper prices.”
Is there a ceiling on cost increases? Maybe. To find out, Art & Science asked students to rank their first and second choices schools again, this time presuming that the schools had improved their facilities and costs. Students routinely awarded them lower grades, while high amenity schools nevertheless outperformed medium amenity schools.
Although six out of ten poll respondents were female and six out of ten were white, results were weighted by income, race, area, and gender to represent the greater college-going population.Adult, online, and other non-traditional students, who generally do not use the same on-campus services as residential students, are not included in the study.
“These institutions have become increasingly important in the lives of young people,” Strauss added. “Not only are there more lazy rivers, but there is also a higher demand for mental and emotional health services.” It’s the quality of the dormitories. We’re going to institutions for all of these things, and the market says, “I want it and I’m prepared to pay more for it.”