OMAHA, Neb. — Some private colleges in Nebraska and Iowa have come up with creative ways to compete for new students due to the number of high school graduates leveling off nationwide.

National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities spokesman Paul Hassen told the Omaha World-Herald ( ) the fairly flat numbers of prospective students mean colleges are competing harder to boost enrollments.

David Drozd, research coordinator of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs Research, said the state’s projected population of 18-year-olds will increase somewhat over the next few years.

“However, almost all of the growth will be among minority population groups, who enroll in college at lower rates” than white students, Drozd said.

To help attract students, the College of St. Mary has dropped their tuition price for this coming school year by 33 percent, to just under $20,000.

“Status quo’s no longer good enough,” said Sarah Kottich, vice president of finance and administrative services at the college in Omaha.

College officials said a price of more than $30,000 would scare off potential students.

Kottich said that since the reduction, applications and deposits at the school are up by 15 percent over any of the past three years.

Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, is competing for students by raising tuition for incoming freshmen by 11 percent this fall but having their rate locked in for the next four or five years.

Drake President Marty Martin said the uncertainty of ever-rising tuition rates made college planning difficult for prospective students. Martin said freezing the tuition rate for incoming freshmen was the “cleanest, clearest way” to help them plan.

Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, decided to increase tuition by 9 percent for the upcoming school year because it believed its previous price didn’t reflect the institution’s excellence, said Scott Seevers, the university’s vice president for enrollment and marketing.

He said Concordia will increase financial aid after the tuition boost.

Information from: Omaha World-Herald,

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