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Concordia increases tuition costs, offers new financial aid opportunities

Concordia’s sticker price tuition will see another increase for the 2017-2018 calendar year. Costs will go from $36,650 to $38,150 this year.

“A lot of research went into where we’re standing and where we can go from here,” said Ellie Butler, member of the college’s budget planning committee.

As a student, Butler said she knows that tuition increase is always tough, but being on the budget planning committee has shown her that there is a lot of effort put into coming up with a tuition price.

“It’s a well thought-out process and is not something meant to disadvantage students in any way,” Butler said. “It’s not just a number that’s thrown out there. A lot of time and thought is put into the number.”

This year’s increase is fairly steady when compared to previous years.

“This has been at least the fourth year in a row where the increase has been about 4 percent,” Vice President for Finance Linda Brown said.

Just like every other year, there are also financial aid changes that go along with the changes to tuition, said Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing Karl Stumo.

As long as a student’s family’s income stays fairly stable, the amount of financial aid they are receiving will rise alongside the increase of tuition. However, if this changes, their situation will have to be reassessed, Stumo said.

“There are special circumstances that are evaluated for individual students,” Stumo said.

Although the increase of tuition is no different than it has been in the past, there was a large shift in timing this year. Coming out three months earlier than usual, FAFSA opened on October 1, 2016 for the 2017-2018 academic year.

This change prompted Concordia, and many other schools, to provide the next year’s tuition earlier than before.

“For Concordia this decision would typically have been made at the winter board meeting in January,” Brown said. “This year, because FAFSA is open Oct. 1, in order to have the best information for families, we decided we needed to have tuition and fees available too. The board acted on this proposal in late September.”

The budget planning committee, made up of two students, the vice president, three administrators — including Stumo and Brown — and three faculty, meets to discuss and create a proposal for tuition which they submit to the board of regents. The board has the final say regarding tuition increases, Brown said.

In creating this proposal, the committee takes into consideration many things including previous years’ information and enrollment.

“We do significant internal analysis of what needs to inform pricing decisions,” Stumo said. “We also do an external analysis.”

Along with looking at Concordia- specific information and research, the board will take into consideration outside information.

“We also take a very careful look at institutions we directly compete with,” Brown said.

Concorida’s tuition is currently one of the most affordable compared to other private institutions, said Stumo.

“The tuition increase that has been approved doesn’t change our position with the competing institutions. And that’s looking at our 2017-2018 fee compared to their 2016-2017 fee,” Brown said.

Brown and Stumo hope students see that although tuition is rising, it is at a steady rate and very comparable to other colleges.

The early release of tuition raise is not the only new thing at Concordia this year. The college has also made two new additions that could change the price of tuition for students.

The college has made a promise of four-year graduation, said Stumo. This means that if a student needs to study for any time after their first four years, their case will be evaluated and if the student qualifies, the college will void their schooling fees additional to the four years. This applies to first-year students this year and on.

Also, the college will begin a new financial aid program called the “Maroon and Gold Guarantee” in the Fall of 2017.

Concordia will offer qualifying students a tuition at the same sticker price as the University of Minnesota, which is currently $23,282 Stumo said.

In order to qualify, students must have a GPA of 3.8 or higher and an ACT score of 28 or higher.

“If you’re a 3.8 and a 28, we’ll equate Concordia’s out of pocket price to the University of Minnesota’s list price,” Stumo said.

In order to maintain this every year, these students have to maintain satisfactory academic progress Stumo said.

“We want students to succeed,” Stumo said, “We don’t want to have to play any games with a merit package going up or down over four years.”

Butler is excited about what the Maroon and Gold Guarantee will offer for Concordia’s prospective students.

“I think a lot of people don’t even apply to Concordia because they see the sticker price,” Butler said. “It’ll be interesting to see how that changes with the maroon and gold standard.”

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