Tuition rates will rise 12 percent in the fall, bringing the cost of one credit hour to $717. A 15-hour semester will cost $10,755, not including fees, books, housing, meal plans and other expenses.
Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, dean of students and vice president of Student Life, addressed the first question on many students’ minds: Where will this additional revenue go?
The unusually high rise in tuition comes after several cutbacks on the university’s part. Faculty and staff did not receive raises this year, and administrators have not received raises in two years – a pattern Buck James, assistant vice president for enrollment management, said “cannot continue indefinitely.”
“And we put off approximately $1 million of deferred payments [last year] because of what was happening with the economy, and you can’t do that forever,” James said.
Thompson said the issue is not unique to ACU, and the university has done its best to reexamine its policies with only students’ interests and the future of the university in mind.
“Even with the endowment and gifts, those are significantly down around the world,” Thompson said. “We have complete restructured and are being much more aggressive in our fundraising.”
Thompson said some “tangibles” will benefit, such as intramurals and student organizations. Other “intangibles,” such as inflation and a dangerously old heating and cooling system, must be addressed.
Policy changes have been made to alleviate some of the financial pressure this tuition rise will bring. The university has set aside $500,000 for returning students who cannot afford the increase, expanded its scholarship fund from $17 million to $19 million, and extended the eight-month payment plan to 12 months.
James supports tuition freezes for incoming freshmen and said ACU administrators are strongly considering the system as a way to further relieve pressure on students.
“It’s possible that may come in next year; I think it’s to most students’ advantage to do it that way,” James said. “But an important part of achieving the 21st Century Vision is to increase tuition.”
The mandatory student activity fee also will increase. Thompson reassured members of the Students’ Association on Thursday that not a dollar from next year’s tuition or student activity fees will go to the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.
Members of SA expressed the need of students to know they will benefit from their extra dollars. James said record numbers of applications indicate the prestige of the university is quickly growing and the price of the ACU experience, compared to other institutions, is worth it.
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