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Tuition increase smallest in 10 years

Cost of school continues to rise, but net total is flatlining in recent years

Tuition for the 2014-2015 academic year has been set at a comprehensive fee of $41,484, an increase of $1,510 from last year’s tuition.

President Craft announced in an email sent out in February that this will be “the smallest comprehensive fee increase in 10 years.”

In terms of percentage, the 3.8 percent increase is lower than it has been in recent years, the closest comparison being a four percent increase that was applied for the 1988-1989 academic year, according to Concordia CFO Linda Brown.

Setting Concordia’s tuition is a rigorous process that starts in the fall when members of the budget planning committee begin meeting on a regular basis to hash out the details of the school’s finances.

The committee is made up of Brown, CFO of the college; Dean Eric Eliason, chief academic officer; Steve Schuetz, chief enrollment officer; three faculty members, and two student representatives, George Kueppers and Alyssa Coop.

Concordia’s budget planning committee is unique in that it is a joint group of administration, faculty, and students, Brown said.

As student representatives on the committee, Kueppers and Coop participate in discussions about tuition, gathering feedback from the student body and bringing those concerns to the table.

The committee’s process goes from the general to the specific, looking first at the results from the previous year to determine a ballpark range for tuition and then considering important factors such as enrollment and financial aid projections.

“Moving forward,” Brown said, “we start breaking it down into specific areas.”

Kueppers added that every bit of what students pay to attend Concordia is calculated and thought about by the committee.

The committee also considers Concordia’s competition when it is looking at setting tuition.

“Our situation is such that we compete with public and private (institutions),” Brown said.

Vice president for enrollment Steve Schuetz said they have to consider the students who are applying to Concordia as well as what other schools they might be applying to.

“Everybody deals with a certain level of pressure from a public competition standpoint in terms of what options families have and what value they are placing on that type of education,” Schuetz said.

He added that it has become more difficult for schools to look attractive to families that might be scared away by the sticker price of tuition.

“There’s that realization that we have to be mindful of that consumer mindset,” he said.

It is no secret that the cost of higher education is increasing across the board. Brown pointed out that, along with tuition, financial aid is also increasing so that the net tuition students and their families are paying is actually flatlining.

According to The College Board, net tuition, which is the cost of tuition minus financial aid, has actually decreased in the past 10 years.

Coop said that the reason the cost of college continues to increase is simple: The cost of living in general continues to rise, and that affects higher education.

“There are things that are out of our control,” she said. “It comes down to what we are willing to sacrifice.”

Schuetz added that things like co-curriculars add to costs significantly.

“If a business person were to sit there and say, ‘Let’s cut expenses,’ (co-curriculars) go,” Schuetz said. “And they’re such a vital part of life and the experience here.”

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