This Summer Only! College at 50% Off! Get Your Learning On While It’s Cheap!

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To attract students at a time when many families are wondering if they can afford college—and also, if higher education is actually worth the money—colleges are going all Crazy Eddie, offering deals like tuition freezes, 50% off and buy-one-get-one-free summer courses, and free housing.

Students aren’t exactly likely to have jobs this summer, but they’re equally unlikely to have much money to spend, so they’re looking over their options carefully in the hopes of getting the most for their hard-borrowed cash. A USA Today piece reports that the competition to attract students is super hot right now—for summer courses especially, when schools try to pull in a little extra revenue during what can be a pretty dead period. From the story:

At least a dozen private and public colleges seeking to fill quiet summer campuses and bring in additional revenue are making undergraduates — and in some cases high school students — offers that are too good to pass up. In addition, as families look for recession-sensitive price tags, some private colleges are trying to stay competitive by offering one-year tuition freezes or four-year tuition guarantees.

And where are the college deals the most “INSAAAAAAANE,” as Crazy Eddie would say? In New Jersey, where many of the old Crazy Eddie stores happened to have been located:

A competitive market for returning summer undergraduates has five New Jersey colleges vying for the business with offers of free housing, 50% discounts and “buy one, get the second half-off” deals.

But there are other special discounts and tuition offers around the country as well:

from 40% off summer tuition at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., to 25% off first-level courses at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pa….

Offering one-year tuition freezes: Culver Stockton College in Missouri, Fresno Pacific University in California, Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Southern New Hampshire University.

But before you go running off to any of these institutions seeking knowledge—and who knows, perhaps even a start on a promising career—now might be the time to reflect that it’s unwise to pick a college based strictly on the price, let alone schlocky gimmicks. You don’t want to attend a college that’s the higher ed equivalent of Crazy Eddie—a company that was involved in all sorts of fraud, went bankrupt, and saw its owner flee the country for a few years before returning and heading off to prison.

Just for kicks, here’s one of the old Crazy Eddie commercials. Let’s hope this guy doesn’t resemble any of your professors in any way: