Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Donna M. Talbot

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrea Beach

Third Advisor

Dr. Fen Yu


Tuition resets, tuition reduction, tuition discounting


The high price of a college education can be a topic of interest, discussion, and at times, distress, for students, families, and higher education leaders alike. Research reveals cost is an important consideration for most students as they decide if and where to enroll in higher education. In recent decades, annual increases to the published price of tuition have often been followed by subsequent growth in financial assistance at many colleges and universities. One result of this reciprocal relationship has been a swift upward spiral in tuition prices, rising at a rate that prompts angst about the affordability of a college education.

A growing number of college and university leaders have decided to address this pattern of rapid price increases by implementing an intentional, planned reduction in their published price of tuition. This strategy, commonly referred to as a tuition reset, is not completely new to higher education; however, a marked increase in the implementation of the practice has occurred in recent years. The practice has also gained the attention of several scholars who have conducted research to investigate and better understand several facets of this growing trend.

This study builds upon previous research to further explore tuition resets and the impact they have on student enrollment at private four-year not-for-profit colleges and universities in the United States. Specifically, the study investigates how the amount of a tuition reset, and the length of time since a tuition reset, impact student enrollment related to race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Findings suggest a significant relationship between tuition resets and the enrollment of women, as well as between tuition resets and the enrollment of students of color. The implications of these findings are exciting and may provide new insight into the complex process of college choice and the growing literature on tuition resets.

A goal of this study was to expand the conversation about tuition resets beyond one focused on broad enrollment and net tuition revenue gains, to one that also considers the students behind those numbers. The findings of this study can help both researchers and institutional leaders better understand tuition resets and their potential place in institutional planning and decision-making.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access