In the News: What Free Public College Means for Virginia’s Small Private Colleges

Sweet Briar announced plans to close in 2015, and although it has since re-launched, its fiscal stability is far from assured.

In an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Phyllis Jordan writes about how private liberal arts colleges such as Sweet Briar College “are essential to sustaining small town and rural economies.” Jordan warns that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s plan for free community college could adversely affect the private institutions. She suggests, “If the General Assembly agrees to make community colleges free, it could pair it with expanded grants for students who stay in state for private colleges.”

In an article for the Fall 2018 issue of Education Next, “Private Colleges in Peril,” Stephen Eide wrote, “Concerns about the small private college are rife among those who study the higher-education market.” Eide identified “increased competition from public institutions,” as “another factor exerting pressure on private colleges.” He also warned, “The emerging free-tuition movement could further strengthen the hand of public institutions at the expense of the private sector.”

— Education Next

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