Here's an interesting report about a small LAC, Oglethorpe, which had some financial problems starting in 2005 but was able to recover from those problems by 2011. Oglethorpe University
Here's something it says about affordability:
"It is a challenge to continue to keep the university affordable, but Schall knows it is in OU’s best interest to do so. The university is highly tuition dependent, as its roughly $20 million endowment supplies but a thin piece of its $25 million operating budget. Still, OU’s cost per student is right around $15,000, which is impressive when compared against other small liberal arts colleges."
I found the 15K number interesting.
I have visited this university--it's very small, and there are some interesting older Gothic buildings on campus. At the same time, there are older dorms--dorms which were built in the 1960s, that truly look horrible. The athletic facilities are also meager, and I imagine most big time suburban high schools with football teams have considerably better gyms than this college.
They are also building a new campus center, and again, from what I hear, the old campus center was in bad shape, and there were plans to renovate or build anew, and I think it made more fiscal sense to just build anew. So it's not just frivolity here again.
What is interesting is that the response to their financial problems has been to increase enrollment--more students mean more tuition dollars--and they did build two new dorms to accomodate the new students. So in some cases, the nice news dorms aren't just frivolous. The university is still quite small, and they hope to get up to 1500 students.
So while the school is affordable, there are limitations. There are only about 99 faculty members, and close to half are only part time. Still, though, students feel they have good relationships with faculty members. And the number of majors is limited--only 29 majors, and not surprisingly, the course selection is limited.
What's also pretty impressive about this school is that it's a small, not well known LAC that was is terrible financial straits just before the recession and, given some of the things that have been said here on CC about small LACs, the impact of the recession, and the prediction that many LACs would not survive, this LAC has actually thrived and done better.
I guess my overall point is that affordability will come with some costs.
For some of the elite, very selective LACs, their response could be to start to limit what they offer both academically and non-academically, but they are not choosing to do so. In fact, their response is to go from need blind to need aware--admitting students based on their ability to pay. I'm sure it won't dilute the academic credentials of their student body. And again, it's better for them to have more tuition dollars.
So that's another way to survive these times. Here are some articles about Grinnell and Wesleyan, which have fantastic endowments: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2...-financial-aid http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2...hical-concerns
From the artilce about Wesleyan:
"The type of education Wesleyan offers is expensive. Three-fourths of its classes are 20 students or smaller, and they are taught by highly qualified academics who don’t come cheap. It has a beautiful residential campus that includes and amenities that students have come to expect from a top-tier institution. And Roth said he is not willing to sacrifice any of that to make the bottom line. “It would be foolhardy to maintain that commitment if it meant we had to reduce the quality of education they want access to,” he said."