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You can't argue with success: school continues controversial "half-off" program.

When something works, you stay with it. Nearly 15 years ago, Lebanon Valley College (Pa.) used a "half-off" sate to prospective students as a way to save the school And despite those who predicted financial ruin because of its "controversial" Presidential Scholarship program, the four-year liberal arts college is now flourishing because of it--more than doubling enrollment, while substantially improving both student quality, and the campus facilities and programs.

The Presidential Scholarship Program offers financial grants based on high school class rank. Students in the top 10 percent of their high school class receive a one-half tuition scholarship, students in the top 20 percent receive a one-third tuition scholarship, and students in the top 30 percent receive a one-quarter tuition scholarship.

According to LVC President Stephen MacDonald, a recent internal study to determine whether the school could continue to afford to otter the program found that it made more fiscal sense than a traditional need-based aid program.

"What we did was look at the asking price over the last 13 or 14 years. We adjusted those numbers for inflation, and then looked at the extent that we were discounting our price through financial aid. We wanted to find out if we were 'giving away the store' because of this program," says MacDonald. "What we found is that we could not afford to stop offering this tuition program."

According to the study, Lebanon Valley had increased its revenue by 113 percent, while increasing its cost by just 9.6 percent since launching the scholarship program. Its current full-time undergraduate tuition is $23,600. The increased revenue has enabled the school to expand its facilities, which now include a fitness facility, baseball park, a science center and two residence halts. Those efforts have helped produce eight straight years of record enrollments.

"We went from a situation where we were looking to tilt empty beds to one where we now have to create empty beds," says MacDonald.
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Title Annotation:In The News
Publication:University Business
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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