Guaranteed Tuition and 4 Year Graduation: Part 1

Hand with guarantee ink stampThe University of Wisconsin offers a guarantee to graduate in four years. The University of Illinois guarantees its tuition for four years. Both offers are fairly new to colleges in general and don’t have much of a track record in terms of students enrolling under the programs. So which is a better deal? Or are they both just gimmicks for colleges to sooth the family fear of rising tuition costs?

So let’s take a closer look starting with the more tangible of the two offers: guaranteed tuition. If you attended the University of Illinois and had guaranteed tuition starting in the 2007-2008 academic year, you would have potentially saved $4,614. Had you attended St. John’s University in New York, a private school, your savings would have been $10,140.

Except that’s not actually the case at St. John’s.

See, for the 2011-12 academic year, undergraduate tuition is $33,125, that’s $2,545 less than the fixed (guaranteed) tuition o f $35,670 for incoming freshman. That probably means your tuition wouldn’t fall below the “normal” tuition until your junior year.

I can’t help but think that at St. John’s the guarantee isn’t really about saving you money but more about easing the fear of the astronomical college costs we have all been hearing about. You know how much the tuition is for the next four years so you can plan accordingly and not worry about rate increases.

Except for room and board.

It’s not included in the guarantee.

Given that the total cost of attendance at St. John’s starting in 2007 was $188,580, a potential savings of less than $10,000 doesn’t seem to be enough to be a major factor in my choice of which college to attend.

University of Illinois’ tuition guarantee plan works as you would expect so it really would be a savings of $4,614 over fours years. But like the St. John’s plan, it doesn’t include room and board. The total cost of attendance for the four years without the discount would have been $98,510.

Now I’m not one to belittle $5,000 but given the total cost of attendance and the horror stories of $50,000, $75,000, or $100,000 in debt, I think people give more value to the guarantee than what it’s actually worth.

Which come to think about it, is probably exactly what the colleges intend.

The table below lists the colleges with a guaranteed tuition based on information from the DIY College Rankings College Search Spreadsheet Fall 2012. I added schools that have announced that they will be implementing some version of tuition guarantees starting in the fall of 2013. Some of these may be limited to one class only.

You can visit Tuition Freezes, Tuition Cuts and Level Tuition for more information. However, some of the information needs to be updated since some of the institutions such as those in Georgia, have dropped their programs.

Next time, we’ll take a look at guaranteed graduation in four years.


4 yr

AIB College of BusinessIAPrivate571
Athens State UniversityALPublic1539
Baylor UniversityTXPrivate1235050
Buena Vista UniversityIAPrivate211245
Burlington CollegeVTPrivate18540
Cameron UniversityOKPublic39735
Chicago State UniversityILPublic35853
Clearwater Christian CollegeFLPrivate50940
Concordia University-IrvineCAPrivate154245
Doane College-CreteNEPrivate105953
D'Youville CollegeNYPrivate164920
East Central UniversityOKPublic316114
East Texas Baptist UniversityTXPrivate108227
Eastern Illinois UniversityILPublic860234
George Washington UniversityDCPrivate974875
Governors State UniversityILPublic1241
Hardin-Simmons UniversityTXPrivate162729
Hiram CollegeOHPrivate118262
Hofstra UniversityNYPrivate667344
Holy Cross College at Notre Dame*INPrivate4517
Huntingdon CollegeALPrivate88437
Illinois State UniversityILPublic1753645
Immaculata UniversityPAPrivate120654
Langston UniversityOKPublic20148
Metropolitan College of New YorkNYPrivate77331
New England Institute of TechnologyRIPrivate2547
Niagra UniversityNYPrivate289461
Northeastern Illinois UniversityILPublic55804
Northeastern State UniversityOKPublic590611
Northern Arizona UniversityAZPublic1761029
Northern Illinois UniversityILPublic1523328
Oklahoma City UniversityOKPrivate186135
Oklahoma Panhandle State UniversityOKPublic119621
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology-OkmulgeeOKPublic2308
Oklahoma State University-Main CampusOKPublic1635732
Pacific Union CollegeCAPrivate135821
Quincy UniversityILPrivate114933
Rogers State UniversityOKPublic28543
Roger Williams UniversityRIPrivate383347
Samuel Merritt UniversityCAPrivate50778
Sewanee, The University of the SouthTNPrivate142978
Southeastern Oklahoma State UniversityOKPublic288710
Southern Illinois University CarbondaleILPublic1306626
Southern Illinois University EdwardsvilleILPublic972029
Southwestern Christian University*OKPrivate50413
St John's University-New YorkNYPrivate1144036
Tarleton State UniversityTXPublic700617
The University of Texas at DallasTXPublic913642
The University of Texas at El PasoTXPublic127468
Thomas More CollegeKYPrivate129630
University of Central OklahomaOKPublic1109411
University of Colorado BoulderCOPublic2416641
University of Illinois at ChicagoILPublic1553225
University of Illinois at SpringfieldILPublic204750
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignILPublic3131167
University of KansasKSPublic1766532
University of MiamiFLPrivate983368
University of Oklahoma Norman CampusOKPublic1778732
Western Illinois UniversityILPublic952033
Western Oregon UniversityORPublic438117

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