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With many college students and their families concerned over mounting tuition costs, student loans and other related higher education expenses, private universities across the country are feeling pressure to make college more affordable. However, it remains unseen as to whether any will do so.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, a number of professionals at collegesand universities nationwide are noticing a trend of declining enrollment and a general pessimism toward the value of higher education and the job prospects it could yield students post-graduation.

While tuition increased at only a marginal rate in 2012 compared to the year before, the newspaper notes that costs still remain too high for many families across the U.S.

One example of a school nervous about enrollment declines is the University of Charleston. The institution’s president, Ed Welch, told the news outlet that more than 10 percent of students who enrolled at the school for the fall 2011 semester backed out prior to the school year commencing.

“We called every one of those students and asked what happened,” said Welch. “Most of them were having second thoughts about borrowing that much money.”

With community colleges offering students a more affordable education in many instances, several of the undergraduates who planned on attending Welch’s school went to those institutions instead.

John C. Nelson, a managing director at Moody’s Investor Services, told the Journal that many other schools are facing similar crises. Name recognition, he stated, goes a long way in attracting students. Private colleges and universities that lack that recognition and don’t reduce school costs markedly could see enrollment drop further.

Student loan debt remains one of the biggest fiscal issues facing consumers across the nation. During the third quarter of 2012, the amount of student loan debt hiked more than $40 billion from the second quarter. The total reached $956 billion in the three-month period.

Those intent on attending a private college or university may be able to do so by securing student loans. Speaking with a school advisor or financial expert is a common method for undergraduates to ensure they set a proper repayment plan once they enter the workforce.

Image: mitchell3417, via Flickr

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