Converse College: Struggling? Or Thriving?

SCHOOL’S TUITION CUT PROMPTS DEBATE OVER FISCAL FUTURE … Converse College is a private liberal arts institution located in Spartanburg, S.C. that offers undergraduate degrees to women and co-educational graduate programs. The school made news last year when it celebrated its 125th anniversary by slashing tuition costs by 43 percent…


Converse College is a private liberal arts institution located in Spartanburg, S.C. that offers undergraduate degrees to women and co-educational graduate programs. The school made news last year when it celebrated its 125th anniversary by slashing tuition costs by 43 percent (to $16,500) in an effort to “solve America’s college affordability issues.”

“Converse is the first institution in South Carolina to make such a move and among only 10 institutions in the nation to do so since 2012,” the school noted at the time.

The school claimed to have “reworked its operating budget” to accommodate the reduced tuition – while maintaining an 11-to-1 student-faculty ratio.

“We heard families’ concerns about the rising price of college and we committed ourselves to finding a sustainable solution,” the school’s president, Betsy Fleming, said. “We now want to start a new conversation in higher education—one that focuses on real value in terms of both quality and cost.”

Did it work?

It’s not immediately clear.  Sources at the school tell us Converse is currently facing a “multi-million dollar deficit” due to the tuition cuts and that Fleming’s administration is “painting a rosy outlook despite a concerted effort to slash costs.”

“The cost reductions seem to be a smoke screen for a ten-year pattern of mismanagement and malfeasance by the current president and administration,” one source tells us.  “There may also be reason to question the use of funds in various specified endowments.”

School officials don’t seem too concerned about those reports.  Last month, Converse welcomed 300 new students to its campus – a fifteen percent increase in enrollment from the previous year.  That puts the school’s total undergraduate enrollment at more than 835 students – a 25 percent increase over the last four years.

The school also boasted a “20 percent increase in gifts over the previous year,” and unveiled several new academic and athletic facilities built with private gifts.

Hmmmm …

Of one thing there can be no doubt: Tuition costs are out of control in South Carolina (particularly at government-run schools), so it’s nice to see one institution attempting to ease the burden on parents and students while preserving core capabilities.

Oh, and speaking of core capabilities, it’s nice to see a school doing its job as opposed to … well, not.

Converse will rise (or fall) based on the free market.  Unlike the government-run schools … which will continue to bleed taxpayers dry no matter how well or how poorly they perform.

Which brings us back to our fundamental point: Higher education is not a core function of government, and all thirty-three of South Carolina’s state-supported institutions of “higher learning” should be immediately freed to pursue their destinies in the private sector.

It’s time to embrace competition – not perpetual subsidization.

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Lydia Anthony September 12, 2014 at 9:25 am

“‘Multi-million dollar deficit’ due to the tuition cuts”? False. Check your sources.

CNSYD September 12, 2014 at 10:26 am

Sic Willie don’t need to check no stinkin’ sources!

Jack September 12, 2014 at 9:43 am

Without state supported institutions, a significant portion of South Carolina’s citizens would have no hope of higher education. This is just using a story about a private institution to bash, public higher education. In short just more of Howard Rich’s “why do we need to educate the pions” crap.

Smirks September 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

The trick for the oligarchy is to educate the slave class just enough to perform a needed function, but not so much that they are able to figure out they are being exploited.

Jackie Chiles September 12, 2014 at 11:34 am

This isn’t true at all. The state schools have much higher admission standards than private schools like Phoenix University Online and DeVry.

William September 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Those schools are a rip off. Their degrees are not respected, and their graduates have a very difficult time competing in the job market. Despite their ads to the contrary. Many companies will not even interview graduates from online schools. Will this change in the future? Not likely anytime soon.

Spartan September 12, 2014 at 9:44 am

They switched from a typical high-cost high-discount model that most private schools use to one that relies much less on financial aid. My understanding is that their operating budget didn’t change much as a result. The financial aid budget was slashed, of course. What this does is reduce their ability to lure high-achieving academic students with discounts (ie financial aid) while less desireable students pay closer to full tuition. I believe this move will be a short term success and long term failure and that they will revert back to a more traditional model down the road.

Not a Rocket Scientist September 12, 2014 at 11:03 am

That rocket you launched just went past FITS’ shoulder. He didn’t even see it or hear it.

That is waay over his level of understanding of the subject matter and that of his source as well.

CNSYD September 12, 2014 at 11:31 am

Many times it appears that Sic Willie’s “sources” are the image he sees in his mirror.

CharlesDikkens September 12, 2014 at 10:30 am

What is the purpose of this uninformed piece of drivel? Converse is not facing a “multi-million dollar deficit.” What is your source for this? We need PRIVATE colleges to thrive. Converse is one of the few that has not run to the public trough for funding. Seems like a freedom of thought libertarian site like this would praise their efforts to provide a great liberal arts education at a reasonable cost, not hack at them with rumor and false claims.

Smirks September 12, 2014 at 10:56 am

Private college drops their tuition by 43%, appears to still charge around 43% more than public colleges.

Proper funding, proper control of spending. That’s what public colleges had before, that’s all they need now.

John September 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

Just merge Converse and SC State. Quality education AND an abundance of white women. Everybody wins.

Philip Branton September 12, 2014 at 11:18 am

Hmm……..I just took a quick cruise through the website and it is very interesting.

This school is free to operate like it wants but I see a lot of faculty that are leaving a LOT of potential on the table.

What is blatantly obvious is that this college really knows how to educate its students about this website ……..

Jackie Chiles September 12, 2014 at 11:33 am

Converse will rise (or fall) based on the free market.

Not as long as there are government backed student loans.

Dave Chappelle September 12, 2014 at 11:33 am

Dang…you beat me to it.

Philip Branton September 12, 2014 at 11:44 am

Dave and Jackie………bravo….!!

+5 points a piece and a copy of “Animal House”…!!

Lets party…..

E Norma Scok September 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm

When I was at Clemson, a friend’s friend brought some girls up from converse to stay for a football game weekend. I spent an entire weekend screwing one of those girls brains out, completely missed the football game, and I don’t remember ever speaking to her her again.

Good times.

VoiceofReason September 13, 2014 at 4:43 am

……and that makes you a real man, right! Grow up!

V I Brate September 15, 2014 at 2:08 am

They had to cut the battery budget about half a million. Not that big a deal.

TaraDeSaussure September 15, 2014 at 9:49 am

Converse and Wofford are two major anchors of the Spartanburg economy. The city has made great strides rising from a textile town to a somewhat international city. There is big money in Spartanburg. The city has offered incentives for 1st time business owners to open new shops etc downtown. It has the Chapman Center for the Arts and Converse has an auditorium where the Spar-burg Symphony plays a fall-winter-spring schedule of concerts. I have never known a slob who went to either school, and while they have a snobbish aura, they are very nice schools in a city pushing towards the future.
I don’t live there but I go there often. In many way ways it is a small Greenville,


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