The Direct Network

3 Innovative Revenue Streams for Colleges

Posted by Liz Schulte on Apr 16, 2018 5:30:00 AM
Topics: Higher Ed, alternative revenue streams, inclusive access

For many colleges revenue is declining, but the pressure to lower student costs is ever present. Some schools face difficult decisions as enrollment numbers and operating budgets are slashed: layoffs, cutting smaller degree programs or even having to close their doors. With uncertain times ahead, alternative revenue streams are a way that colleges can close budgetary gaps.  

3 Innovative Revenue Streams for CollegesThe stagnation of student enrollment growth is just starting. With smaller high school graduate pools, the number of college applicants is expected to continue to decline through 2023. On top of that, international student enrollment dropped 7% in 2017. Recruitment, retention and school brand are more important than ever, but more needs to happen to ensure a school’s financial security. That’s why identifying and establishing the right alternative revenue streams for your school now is vital.

Three innovative revenue streams

Corporate partners

Metropolitan State University, Denver partnered with Sage Hospitality to open a chain hotel. Located on the outskirts of campus, the hotel brings money and benefits to campus. First, it employs students, giving their hospitality students real-life, practical work experience in a hotel, restaurant and conference facility. Second, it is a source of income for the campus. Last year, the university received over $2 million from the hotel, half of which was put toward student scholarships.

By thinking outside of traditional campus boundaries, the school has strengthened their brand, increased student confidence and brought in additional revenue. Keep an open mind and look at potential corporate partnerships that would provide the school and the students benefits.


Microcredentials are mini degrees or online certifications that schools can offer working professionals. Pioneered by MIT, students can earn “MicroMasters” online for the fraction of the cost. Covering only a percentage of the in-person master’s degree, students can earn the credential and even admittance to MIT’s master program based on their performance. This idea brings in additional revenue and markets MIT’s master degree program.

This idea works because it is flexible. Look at the community surrounding your school. Which field that has the most growth? Can your school offer the professionals in that industry a way to continue their education? Maybe your school could partner with some of the local companies. They could promote your continuing education program, and your school could promote corporation internships with the company to your students.

Inclusive Access

Inclusive access is a great way to increase course materials sell-through rate while still giving your students a discount. By including the cost of books in the tuition, the student experience is simplified and they aren’t presented with another bill just as the semester is starting.

This method can increase your school’s course materials revenue, or you can simply cover costs and pass more savings to your students. This method ensures your students have the materials they need to be successful and stay in school.

>>For more ideas read 6 Alternatives Revenue Streams for Colleges.

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About Liz Schulte

Liz Schulte is an author and business owner with a background in customer service, marketing and higher education development.

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