I learned yesterday that LaSalle University is reducing tuition 29% next year, bringing annual tuition down to ~$29,000 from ~$40,000:

“The cost of higher education continues to spiral year after year, with no end in sight,” said La Salle President Colleen Hanycz. “We cannot continue to assume that this issue will fix itself someday, somehow—the tuition model for higher education is broken. La Salle is working to reshape that model so college becomes an affordable reality for students and their families.”

Hanycz continued, “We are taking decisive steps to respond to what we hear from students and parents: They want a La Salle education but are concerned about how to pay for it. By reducing our tuition by 29 percent, we are providing real savings to students, and also ensuring that a transformational La Salle education will be accessible by students from more diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, supporting our Lasallian values of inclusion.”

What has the money that LaSalle is now cutting been financing?

I have family members who graduated from LaSalle when it was a commuter school. They got their degree at a good value. I doubt that even next year’s reduced rates justify whatever the experience that LaSalle promises.

LaSalle students of the past few years have almost certainly been funding the expansion of the university’s residential campus. But how is LaSalle meaningfully (rather than marginally) distinct from St. Joe’s, Cabrini, Holy Family, Neumann, etc.?

These are all good Catholic colleges and universities across Greater Philadelphia that stem from different parts of Catholic tradition. If one isn’t meaningfully distinct from another, why pretend otherwise? Why transition from a commuter to residential model for no particular reason other than perpetuating the institution’s life? Consolidate or close.

Are you serving students in a distinctive way? Are you providing them a first class education at a level of working class affordability? If they’re doing the first but not the second, they’re just like a dozen other great Pennsylvania schools that probably don’t need to exist.

The Penn States of the world can serve the same students at scale and at a lower cost.