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Economy impacts college choices

Economy impacts college choices

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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As prospective college students decide which school they would like to apply to next year, they could be looking for a good price rather than a prestigious school. Representatives from Utah schools say their application numbers will be just fine.

Tuition for BYU this year is $2,040 for a full-time load of classes. The University of Utah is charging less than $3,000 for 17 credit hours this semester. Compared to some schools on the east coast, like Boston University, the University of New Hampshire and Rutgers, that's a steal.

BYU spokesman Joe Hadfield said, "BYU and a lot of the schools in the West and in the state here, they're all seen as a great value."

USA Today says recent study from says 57 percent of students are looking into "less prestigious" schools for financial reasons in 2009. Hadfield says BYU doesn't see any indicators hinting applications will drop because of hard economic times.

"It may be a little early to say for sure, because application deadlines are a few months away, but we do not expect a decline in the number of applicants this coming year," he said.

As a matter of fact, Hadfield says applications traditionally to go up during financially unstable times.

"Fall of 2001, seven years ago, there was a lot of uncertainty with national security and the economy; we did see a slight increase in applications that year," he said.

State of Utah Board of Regents Commissioner of Higher Education Bill Sederburg said, "I'm a little bit surprised to hear that at BYU because typically the research universities or the more traditional universities will have a more consistent pool of applicants. Whereas the schools such as the two-year schools or schools that have two year programs will tend to fluctuate a lot more with the economy," he said.

Utah Valley University Spokesperson Chris Taylor says that school expected its enrollment to go up as it switched to a university, but he says the economy is absolutely playing a roll in its large increase in numbers. Around the state, public colleges collectively have seen an 8 percent increase in enrollment.

Sederburg says while applications for enrollment might go up, applications for financial aid already have.

"We see through UHEAA, which is the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority, about a 13 percent increase in the number of loans that are being applied for this year compared to last year," he explained.

But Sederburg says the nation's financial problems could make it more difficult for the state to borrow money from banks to give out these loans. He says the state has already lost major lenders in just the last year.


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Paul Nelson and Randall Jeppesen


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