Concordia College will no longer offer its Regents’ Scholarship – that is, its full-tuition, merit based scholarship – to applying high school students. As a Regents’ Scholar, I suppose now I’m expected to launch a tirade about how inconceivable and horrific it is that Concordia is no longer offering the scholarship, how crucial the scholarship was to the school’s identity, how the school will be worse off without it, et cetera. That’s not the case. Eliminating the scholarship was probably the right choice. Although the Regents’ Scholarship made Concordia an option for me and for students in similar situations, cutting it is not an injustice. First and foremost, as I understand it, the money used to fund Regents’ scholars will still go to financial aid – albeit now to more students. The Regents’ Scholarship was an expensive example of merit aid. It benefited few students and a more egalitarian solution – that is, making more scholarships available as Concordia has done – is laudable.
While I am saddened by the departure of the Regents’ Scholarship, I think getting rid of it is a step in the right direction. But Concordia can do one better in reconsidering its financial aid.
Concordia College in Moorhead should follow Concordia University in St. Paul’s footsteps and cut tuition by decreasing the aid all students receive. Two years ago, Concordia University cut its tuition by a third. To make the plan solvent, the school needed to increase its incoming class by 24 students. They exceeded their goal by over 100 students. There are many reasons this change could benefit our Concordia as well. Concordia College’s sticker price is a myth: students are paying, on the whole, drastically less. However, as long as the cost of Concordia appears high, students may be dissuaded from attending. Once Concordia University made this switch, they saw a dramatic increase in applications. This transition would represent a good deal for the Concordia community as well.
For faculty, we can look to Concordia University’s leadership again: not only are more students paying tuition, revenue from tuition has increased. For students, this proposal increases the viability and the power of outside scholarships. Aid that comes from a source outside of Concordia is not indexed to its tuition. Federal aid such as Pell grants or subsidized loans, state aid such as the Minnesota private colleges grant, as well as smaller scholarships would pay for comparatively more of our education. Aid from donors like the Joliquer and Barry families would additionally fund a higher percentage of a student’s tuition without an increase in absolute aid amount.
Without the gift of a Regents’ Scholarship, I wouldn’t be writing this. I will mourn the Regents’ Scholarship, and I am immensely grateful for having it. However, I understand why its time has come to an end. I am hopeful. I believe that this disruption to financial aid can start a conversation through which Concordia can draft a new structure for the betterment of the Concordia experience, both to the benefit of current students and the college as a whole. If another Concordia can do it, why not ours?
Zach Lipp (’16) is an economics geek, a wannabe sociologist, a Regents’ Scholar and a mathematics student at Concordia College. He has served in Campus Service Commission, Student Government Association, and Hall Council. Zach now divides his campus activities between geeking out at analytics club and starting a Roosevelt Institute Campus Network chapter at Concordia. His hobbies include overusing Microsoft Excel, taking Smash Bros. too seriously, and loudly talking about Twitter.