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Colleges face enrollment shortfalls, offer discounts: report

By Andrea Burzynski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Many leading U.S. colleges and universities face a shortfall in enrollment for fall classes and will offer price discounts as they compete for students in an ever expanding higher education market, according to Forbes.

The magazine highlighted 50 public and private U.S. colleges listed in the Princeton Review's "Best Colleges" list that are still accepting students in their 2013 freshman classes.

In their scramble to fill empty seats, colleges are likely to offer significant tuition discounts in the form of grants in a type of free market pricing that goes on behind the scenes, Forbes said.

"There are many more colleges in the United States than is economically viable," wrote Matt Schifrin, managing editor of investing content at Forbes Media. "Many colleges make deals with families, offering significant rebates to their advertised prices."

Among colleges still seeking students for fall classes are Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, the University of Maryland, College Park, The New School in New York City, Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, according to Forbes.com.

Its list includes more selective schools but the National Association of College Admissions Counselors counts 288 colleges nationwide that have reported having space for incoming freshmen this fall.

The rising price of college tuition scares families and parents, but they can get discounts if they look, Schifrin said.

Average tuition and fees alone at private nonprofit four-year institutions rose $1,173 or 4.2 percent to $29,056 in 2012-13, according to the College Board. The costs are not much lower for out-of-state students at public four-year institutions where average tuition and fees rose $883 or 4.2 percent to $21,706.

Although most colleges ask for deposits from accepted students by May 1, Forbes said it's not too late to apply.

Most schools on the list offer grants and scholarships to at least 90 percent of their incoming freshman, with some schools' average grants exceeding $20,000.

For example, 99 percent of incoming students receive a grant or tuition rebate from Juniata College, a private liberal arts college in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, according to Forbes.

If students meet certain academic qualifications, they should not expect to pay more than half of Juniata's 2013 tuition rate of $45,590, even if their family's household income is above $200,000, it added.

Even schools that have taken measures to control costs are experiencing shortfalls. Despite a tuition freeze and a lower price tag relative to many private universities, the public St. Mary's College of Maryland still has space for 150 students, according to the Washington Post.

Private not-for-profit schools are the most likely to offer discounts in the form of grants. Schifrin said there are also relative bargains to be had at public schools, though the percentage of students who receive grants tends not to be as high.

(Reporting by Andrea Burzynski; editing by Patricia Reaney and Andrew Hay)

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