The Great Groupon Debate
Earlier this month, National Louis University (NLU) opened the door to a whole new dimension in paying for college. They introduced the very first Groupon deal for college tuition by offering an Introduction to Teaching course at a discounted price of $950 -- this represents $1,282 in savings off the original price for the course. But don’t get too excited just yet. There are a few restrictions on the deal; you must be a new student, you must have a bachelor’s degree and there are only 25 spaces available at this rate.
How will this change the landscape of college tuition as we know it? Will Groupon offers for college tuition catch on at other institutions? Will students readily accept this as a method of shopping for college courses? Let’s take a closer look at some of the issues.
Finances: If colleges begin to offer courses through Groupon or other coupon websites, how will this affect their bottom line? This may not become the norm for several reasons. One, colleges are already fighting budget woes and hiring freezes; if courses are offered at a huge discount, it could add to the financial burden for the administration. Secondly, with the offer being limited in quantity, the schools will risk student backlash from those who did not get in on the deal. It may even cause some students to demand refunds or reductions in fees, leading to even more headaches for the schools.
Loyalty: The current deal being offered by NLU is only open to new students with a current bachelor’s degree, and the credit hours are not necessarily transferable. This means that the student taking the course better be prepared to stay at NLU to have those credits count toward a degree, or that $950 just went out the window. While this may seem a great way to lure new students to the campus, it may also cause some negative feelings among the current student body. How would you feel if you found out you paid $1,200 more than your classmate for the same course?
Reputation: There have already been some interesting comments posted to Twitter and Facebook about this Groupon tuition offer, such as “Look mom, I got my degree from Groupon!” Groupon is associated with bargains, great deals and cheap stuff. Do you really want your college experience lumped into that same category? Parents and students may be a bit hesitant to invest in a school that offers coupons for credit hours.
The idea behind the Groupon offer for college tuition is interesting, especially in this tough economy and with tuition prices on the rise. However, the ridicule and backlash NLU faces may outweigh the good intentions.
Please let us know your opinion…