50: Total Price Transparency at Columbia College (Missouri) w/ Dr. Scott Dalrymple

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Scott Dalrymple, President of Columbia College, discusses how they’re working to improve price transparency for Columbia students with their no-fees all-in “Truition” model.

You're listening to enrollment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to Growin Romant at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh endromant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anroman growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Evu podcast network, Imar,Golson AVP of marketing at helics education and we're here today withDoctor Scott Dow rumple, President of Columbia, College Cott. Welcome to theshow. Thank you really excited to talk with you today about how you're workingto improve price transparency for Columbia, students, but before wethinkinto that Scott, can you get the listeners a little bit betterunderstanding of Bhoth Columbia, college and your rule? There sureColumpia college is originally a liberal art. SISTITUTION was we werefounded in O Eighteden and fifty one and Columbia Missouri. There are otherColumbia colleges, but we're that one. So we've been here for a long time andwe have a traditional liberal arts campus that most people would recognizeas such lot of brick buildings, and you know, students playing volleyball andthings like that, and we're very proud of that. We have about maybe levenhundred students on that campus and along with the number of evningstudents. But years ago decades ago, the college started expanding acrossthe country, both on military bases and otherwise, and we now haveapproximately forty locations across the country really close to coast inwelve different states, and we typically provide adult education inthose venues. We also started an online program very early in the year twothousand so and we were offering full degree programs at that point so thatwe really grew rapidly into one of the larger online programs in the country.Certainly, at that point, when there...

...weren't that many competitors nowthey're more competors we're still substantial and overall, we probablyhave an given day the e little over twenty thousand students Awesomescott.Let's dive in let's talk about why price transparency is so important forstudents and how youyou're hoping to improve transparency with your truitionmodel at Columbia. Well, I've been a believer for some time that the nextreal innovations in higher and are not necessarily going to be adtechinnovations. I think they will continue to be those, but I think the greatinnovations are going to be in the way education is priced. I think it havebeen some very interesting things out. There you've got some of the CBEproviders, like Western governors doing Youkno all you can eat buffet pricingyou know to can get as many capats he's done, as you can within a year and soforth. You've got people talking about income based repayment loans. I hearless of that lately, but certainly people talking about some reallyinteresting ideas on how to affect Tis to loan issue, and I think it's justthere's more to come. I mean we actually were brain storming here andsaying we. I believe this. I think this is the next big thing s the thing we'rein what else can there be and we started to Looki? You know what I was ateacher of business for years and I used to tell students you know ifyou're Ansrepreneur, you look for the place. People are complaining and weask ourselves what we're people complaining about. Well, besides price,in general, students complain about a couple of different things. Theycomplain about fees, especially at some institutions where fees can rivaltuition if Yeu had them alltogether and the complain about the cost f textbooks. So we asked ourselves what can we do ifanything, to affect those issues and the more we thought about it? The morewe thought we might be able to solve both issues and create truly transparpricing for students and I'm sure we'll talk about more details later, butthat's what really led to what we call...

...truition yeah and then talk about thattruition model in general. This is this. Is I've heard you compare it to we'redoing for for highred tuition? What southwested for for airline fees? Howdoes that truition model work? It really was a model in my mind,southwest carolines really came along and they just said: Hey we're not goingto mess around we're going to show you what the price is very transparently. They had a verygood website early on and it was very easy to compare prices. They even splitit up into a Ri. You know departure flight and return play and you pricethe out separately and it's just very transparent t tended to be lower costnow, always the low cost but very very transparent. We thought that that ethicwould apply to higred very well. So again we ask ourselves: How can we betransparent? So we said well, people are complaining about when they sign upfor college. They don't know how much the fees are going to be down the road.They know what you know they were charged today, but often there areother fees that come down the road. They also don't know what theirtextbooks are going to cost and they cound be substantial. So we said what,if we just took care of all that for them. What if we could? We have a modelwhere we eliminated all these of all kinds for our adult venues, we'retalking here, tothat Ar online program and or adults students. Can weeliminate all fees, no application fee, no graduation fee, no transcripties, noprocturing fees know anything. No technology fees, no kind of fees at allthe parking fee and we would forego that revenue, which is a lot F revativefor anybody. We could we forgo that revenue and is there a way for us tonegotiate with publishers directly in bulk on behalf of our students anddrive down the price, so we are the textbook purchaser and we are providingtextbooks to all of those students directly and because it's just us, weare going to be able to negotiate a better deal than anyone couldindependently. Tose were the two goals,...

...the fee at a textbook, really miled itout, and we said you know at what plant you know. Can we do this and still stayin business? Essentially, we are a non profit, have been sin EIGTEEN, fiftyone. So our goal is to improve people's lives. That's that's our actual versionof our actual mission statement, so we are not in it to make huge profits. Wewe want to improve more lives, that's how we succeed, so we modeled it outand we came to a place where we thought. Okay, we can do this and that number came out to be threehundred and seventy fivers a credit hour for undergraduate learners, andthat's it that's all in so three a eventy five. All of your textbooks areincluded. All your fees are included, even things like lab kits and otherthings that you'll need are included, so there's really no fine print at allin there, and we think that that will resinate very well for students also bythe way of a quick footnote when it comes to our military students, those who are on military tuitionassistance. We will we're meeting the military tuition assistance cap of twohundred fifty D, so in other words, if you're receiving MTA, you will paynothing out of pocket to us now. Weyou'll have no fees and no textbookcharges and we're going Ta weare of anyone else doing that. So our goal isto remove some of these barriers. Education. It's awesome! It's awesome,Scott! Now that you have this all in price. Any concerns that your all intruition number may look comparatively higher than other institutions whoaren't including their fees in their listed tuition price. Not a lot and thereason is we were already quite low priced. We were already quite low priceand Lo fee already, so we got a fairly low percentage of our revenue from feesbetween one and two percent of revenue...

...is from fees that's much lower thanmany of our competitors have so beforegoing. That was not a huge issue,so that piece is hard for others to replicate, although not impossible,that's fine, but we already compare when we look at a lot of our maincompetitors, even at three eventy, five Wer, all werd less than their tuitionat three D, eventy five, I geat thit's a big country, four thousand collegesyou can find you know people who win in any different kind of battle, but whenwe look at the colleges that we tend to see as our main competitors, we stackup really well, even with truition. You reference this earlier, but partiallyyou've been able to get to this truition model by lowering the hardcosts of some of your existing student fees. Talk about how you crafted someof those publishing deals and these moves to electronic textbooks that havehelped decrease these caustic Columbia. Sure and you bring up a good pointwhich I haven't mentioned yet, which is the way the really the only way topractically make this work ist to move almost entirely to electronic text. Weworked with our faculty, an other advantage. We have do. We have a. Wehave a tenure track faculty here that oversees the curriculum but they'revery forward thinking, and they work very well with the administration andthey understand the adult market and they've been very, very helpful incoming up with quality tex from major publishers that they find good enoughto pass muster and so we're working with a major publishers. Pierson MagroHill Sen, gauge El severe, the usual suspects. We've got deals with all ofthem and in eight about eighty five percent of the cases we foundelectronic text that our faculty says: Hey. These are great. You know somecases they're shifting their own. You know traditional classes to them. So that's about eighty five percent ofthe time about fifteen percent of the time we said. No, there isn't reallyanything we're totally happy with or for some reason we have to stay with aphysical text and there's different...

...discipoints, where it's just harder toget things in e tech. We are this actually shipping out the physical Takto the students. So we didn't go all electrotic. We just went mostlyelectronic and what that does is it? It allows us to be a large publisher, alarge purchaser of textbooks, so when we call Pierson, he knowthey're happyto talk to us, because we have twenty thousand students and it's been very interesting. It's it'svery early in this process, we're not the first college to negotiating withthe publishers, that's for sure, but we're finding that it's still notnormal, and I think one of the reasons is at many colleges. They don't havethe same structure of academic oversight, in other words Y. You can goto a very large university where you've got a thousand faculty members, eachmaking their own individual decisions, of course, but they don't particularlywant to work together with the administration to come to a deal oreighty five percent or etexs, or something like that, so it's even theirmany college is much even larger than us, who probably could not implementtruition Scott in in institutions discount rate the average amount ofinstitutional aid granted to a student is still one of those x factors. Whenwe talk about price transparency, any future desires to incorporate discountrate somehow into your truition model. Well now I need to go back to theoriginal discussion of the college. I remember I told you we had atraditional college here in Columbia, Missouri and then we had all theseother venues in an online education going on all over the place. Those areboth Cay College, the degree, the curriculum, the learning outcomes, ASDso forth, of the same w Geta Columbiy College degree, but we don't operatethem exactly the same in every way and we have decided not to pursue truitionfor our residential students or our...

...full time. You know tritional ages,fulltime students who come here to Columbi Missouri. They are not part ofthe truition plan. You know the other. Nineteen thousand students are, but thestudents here were not changing the pricing structure and we do someminivative things there. You know we. Obviously, yes, we discount, like you,know, withthrough through scholarships like everyone else. We also have a fiveyear tuition rate lock when people come in promised to keep their tuition the sametheyre just other benefits of being a student here on the day campus thatmake it so we really are in a position to do truition. Now in the fact al. Theacademic freedom issue becomes a stronger issue here on the day campus,so we honor that and at this point, we're not going to truition for the daycampus so and the B part of that is in the adult venues, those other Nin sand,students. Frankly, it's thes, I guess the way to put is thesavings are already baked into that tuition. Rigt that Three D. seventyfive is much lower than the day students pay and we discounting andscholarships are not quite as robust. There got it got it Scott today, you'reahead of the pack when it comes to price transparency based on state andnational regulatory trends that we're seeing do you anticipate otherinstitutions quickly, following in your footsteps, on the sort of pricingtransparency, either by choice or by eventual mandate? Hquick cancer is no othat. We're happyto have them follow us. I think itd be good for students. I don't know if into be mandated, that's interesting. I hadn't really run into that thoughtbefore whether it would be mandated bygovernment. I've not even heard a rumble about that that had enothing todo with why we started doing it, but we, you know, I don't think people illfollow, be a couple of things. I think it's again, the the econemic freedomissue is no trivial thing on most campuses. It's not trueval here either,but we had a faculty who has a history of working with us very, very well lostbeing the adminstration. That may be...

...the case. Other places may not piece acase. I think that's an issue and again I go back to the play where we werealready loafy, so we were kind of uniquely positioned to go no fee. Ifyou have fees of you know, you could easily find colleges that have, I thinkten. Fifteen percent of their revenue is from fees it's pretty hard to flip aswitch and go to zero on that yeah you'd have to raise tuition. So muchthat the market may not see that as a good thing. So the fact that we wereyou know one to two percent of revenue. was fees put us in a pretty strongposition to just go all the way Gota. It's got any final. Next Steps Advicefor other institutions who are listening, who are consideringfollowing your lead on pricing transparency, but perhaps nervous to doso before everyone else does her because of those academic freedomissues that you brought up well, I think we welcome other people joiningin because I think when it gets to full transparency, it's just better forstudents. So now you know they don't have to worry about that piece. Theycan. They can pick an institution based on whether it's the right fit for themacademically or socially or convenience wise or whatever they're looking fortheyt have to worry about, am I being told the actual price, but we thinkit'd be great. If everybody went to it, I mean it's obviously up to them. I dothink it'll be harder for other institutions, but we say the more F,the marrier and- and you can tell by all the data that I've shared with youhere today. We take a view that we're happy to share I'v Benefited personallyfrom folks Om other colleges being generous to me, helping me bounce ideasoff them. Helping me understand their operations and I always said I want topay it forward, we're pretty transparent, and that's why I've? You know I've toldthese very specific numbers and percentages and things because you knowwe have nothing to ide. We were if people think we're doing a good thingand want to follow us we're happy to...

...help hem. Do that got thanks so muchfor your time today, based on that spirit of generosity that you've seenin the high red community. What is the best place for listeners to connectwith you if they have any followud questions? Well, if you like, you canjust I'll give you my email address. Just it's his easy one. It's justpresident at CC is that Edu so CCI Assis, an Scott Thatydyou, not myfavorite Ed. You addressed by the way, but those are really hard to Chank, but there's Apocrypul or on why it wasmade that so many years ago, but I'd be happy to. If I I'm not the rightperson to answer a question which is often then I can forward it to theappropriate person. Awesome thanks, againt, so much for joining. I today'sCot. Thank you very much attracting today's new post, traditional learnersmeans adopting new enrolmant strategies. Keeliks educations data drivenenterprise, wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges anduniversities thrive in this new education, landscape and Helix has justpublished the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook, with fiftypercent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's mostpressing enromant growth challenges download it today for free at Helock's,Educationcom Playbouk you've been listening to enromantgrowth university from helic education to ensure that you never miss anepisode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (224)