Christian colleges hurting for students

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 29 2011 10:41 a.m. MST

CNNMoney says some religious schools have closed because there are less religious young people to recruit. Other religious schools are scrambling to broaden their appeal by dropping "Bible" from their Bible College name or by dropping tuition rates.

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After 134 years, Pillsbury Baptist Bible College closed. Dana College lasted 126 years. Bethany University only made it a mere 92 years.

CNNMoney says these religious schools closed because there are less religious young people to recruit — and other religious schools are scrambling to broaden their appeal by dropping "Bible" from their Bible College name or by dropping tuition rates.

One Bible study school in Georgia, Brewton-Parker College, cut its tuition by 22 percent per year for the current school year to attract more students.

"Brewton-Parker, like many other Christian-affiliated schools, is private, and we have to have new students coming in," college president Mike Simoneaux told CNN Money. "We recognize that in order to stay competitive we had to find ways to lower our tuition and not our quality."

It's not just Brewton-Parker.

Duquesne University, a Catholic university in Pennsylvania is slashing tuition by half. Seton Hall University, a New Jersey Catholic school, is giving a 61 percent tuition reduction for some students. A Jewish rabbinical school in New York, Beis Medrash Heichal Dovid, cut tuition by 20 percent.

It is like Black Friday for religious schools — except without the long lines and pepper spray.

CNNMoney quoted various studies showing fewer young Americans claiming an affiliation with any particular denomination. Less religious youth means fewer prospects. "It used to be … you had enough students to attend purely because of religion," John Nelson, a managing director at Moody's, told CNNMoney. "But when they're suffering a decline in students because a religion is stagnating or declining, they have to do something drastic to attract students."

But not every college is hurting enough to slash tuition, yet.

The Star Telegram reported Texas Christian University is raising tuition 6.5 percent — bringing on Occupy Wall Street-type protests from students. "Over the past five years, TCU's tuition has increased a total of 43.5 percent — from about $22,980 in 2006 to $32,400 in 2011, according to university officials and news archives. For the fall and spring semesters of this school year, a student's total estimated cost is about $43,800, including room, board, books and supplies."

The LDS Church-sponsored BYU has also seen tuition rise steadily over the years. A table showing tuition since 1960 shows the costs rising steadily from $130 for both LDS and non-LDS students back then to $2,355 for LDS and $4,710 for non-LDS for the 2012-13 school year. Tuition has held steady some years, but BYU has never cut it. The university is regularly lauded for being a top value because its tuition is low compared to many other private colleges and universities.

CNNMoney also looked at state colleges and universities and found the top five biggest tuition raises were in California (21 percent hike), Arizona (17 percent hike), Georgia (16 percent hike), Washington (16 percent hike) and Nevada (14 percent hike).

With prices going up all around, it is no wonder CNNMoney titled the article on religious tuition: "Want cheaper tuition? Find religion."

EMAIL: mdegroote@desnews.com TWITTER: www.twitter.com/degroote @degroote

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