Purchasing a four-year college education is starting to sound a lot more like buying a car. Liberal arts schools throughout the country are offering new deals to win over families with less cash on hand, the Wall Street Journal reports. You might get $2,500 cash back if you apply today; or perhaps you'd like to pay for seven semesters and get the last one free. At least one school is even offering financial support to graduates whose post-college employment pays little.
Colleges are facing a smaller pool of graduating high school seniors, forecast this year at 3.32 million, compared to 3.41 million in the 2010-2011 school year. What's more, fewer students heading to college plan to attend private, four-year institutions. Meanwhile, students have seen the average cost of public and private colleges soar 92% between 2001 and 2011, and the average student-loan toll among 2011 graduates with debt was $26,600. "We're 127 years old, but doing business the same way as we always have isn't going to work for the next 127 years," says the president of Alma College in Michigan. (Read more college stories.)