Augustana increases tuition for the upcoming year

President+Steven+Bahls+presents+his+paper+airplane+at+the+2015+opening+ceremony+in+Carver.+File+Photo+by+Augustana+Observer

President Steven Bahls presents his paper airplane at the 2015 opening ceremony in Carver. File Photo by Augustana Observer

Augustana announced its most recent tuition increase for the 2016-17 academic year: an increase of $482 per term, with the total for the year being $49, 658.

There hasn’t been a year where tuition hasn’t gone up in the 10 and a half years that Vice President of Enrollment, Communication and Planning Kent Barnds has spent working for Augustana.

Barnds explains the reasons for the necessity of the tuition increase as a way to keep up with the rising costs of educating and serving the students, which increases with each passing year.

“(Our institution) is a labor intensive operation, with 60 cents of every dollar going toward personnel, which goes to direct service of our students,” said Barnds.

Barnds went on to explain how the money is divided for each service: about five cents of every dollar goes to preserve the institution and is spent on the debt services of the college, such as paying for things that the college has built over the course of the years. Seven cents of every dollar is reinvested in the physical plan for the college, such as the renovations that took place in Westerlin Hall and the current renovations being done to the College Center. Twenty seven cents is spent operating and running the institution, and about one cent of every dollar goes into a contingency fund, which is an emergency fund. Barnds said that the amount set aside for the contingency fund is around a million dollars.

There are processes in the college engages in as a way to make sure that tuition is not unreasonable to the students and families paying off the amounts.

Some students say that tuition continues to be unreasonable with every increase that is announced. Sophomore Nofisat Eletu shares her experience.

“Personally, I feel that it’s really dumb that tuition is increased because there are a lot of people on campus that are paying their tuition themselves,” said Eletu.

Eletu described the struggles students face when they are in this situation, and how families try to give as much money as they can, with the end result still not being enough. With the scholarships that Eletu has acquired, and continues to look for, there is still more money to be paid off in the years to come.

Eletu said that tuition should not be increasing the way that it’s increasing, as it is coming close to going over $50,000, “which just makes no sense.”

“We are under continual thought and discussion to discuss what happens at that point,” said Barnds.

There are no models in which a different action can be taken other than increasing tuition, but discussions are taking place to raise awareness to the issue.

This has been the smallest increase in tuition that the college has had in the last six years, but there is no guarantee of this becoming a pattern for the years to come, as Barnds puts it, “it’s very difficult for me to get my crystal ball out and prognosticate what we might be talking about one year from now,” said Barnds.

With these challenges, there are always outside influences that can change the budgeting process of the year, such as a fluctuation in the MAP grants students acquire for the year or a change in the insurance for the employees.

According to Barnds, any increases to the scholarships given out by the college are not part of the discussions at this moment. Financial aid packages can be adjusted with any significant changes for families that show the need.

“Our commitment to students and families and to all those who put their confidence into Augustana is to do our best to hold the tuition increase in check, but also to deliver a high quality experience for all of our students,” said Barnds.