Purchasing a four-year college education is starting to sound a lot more like buying a car. Liberal arts schools throughout the country are offering new deals to win over families with less cash on hand, the Wall Street Journal reports. You might get $2,500 cash back if you apply today; or perhaps you'd like to pay for seven semesters and get the last one free. At least one school is even offering financial support to graduates whose post-college employment pays little.
Colleges are facing a smaller pool of graduating high school seniors, forecast this year at 3.32 million, compared to 3.41 million in the 2010-2011 school year. What's more, fewer students heading to college plan to attend private, four-year institutions. Meanwhile, students have seen the average cost of public and private colleges soar 92% between 2001 and 2011, and the average student-loan toll among 2011 graduates with debt was $26,600. "We're 127 years old, but doing business the same way as we always have isn't going to work for the next 127 years," says the president of Alma College in Michigan.