Tuition rise will be lowest on record

Next year’s tuition rise will be proportionately the lowest in more than 25 years.

Kathryn Watson, Writer

Tuition for the 2010-2011 academic year will rise 3.99 percent, the lowest increase since Biola began recording rate increases more than a quarter of a century ago.

The board of trustees approved an annual tuition price tag of $28,852, up 3.99 percent from the current academic year’s price tag of $27,744. Metzger is also maintaining a discount rate of 25 percent for students, which edged up from 24 percent last fall. That 1 percent translated into an additional $1 million in student scholarships. Carl Schreiber, resigning vice president of business and financial affairs, said the low increase clearly represents Metzger’s recognition that the economy has changed.

“Biola needs to be responsible and responsive to what we know our students and their families are feeling,” Schreiber said.

The university has to make sacrifices to compensate for the low increase and discount rate, Schreiber explained. This year, for example, employees didn’t receive salary increases, usually issued each January.

The comparatively small increase follows last year’s increase of 4.99 percent, which was the smallest increase since a 2001 increase of 4.69. The most substantial increase on record took place in 1987, when tuition jumped 13.68 percent.

Although the economy began to dive in fall of 2008, students didn’t begin to feel the full brunt of the recession until long after registration in fall 2008, said Schreiber, making the current academic year even tougher than the one before for students. President Corey cited the board of trustees’ commitment to affordability as the driving factor behind the small increase. Corey said he doesn’t want high prices to drive away a single student.

“Students actually wanted to spend more money, but we said no,” Corey joked.

To students wondering why tuition has to increase at all, Sandie Weaver, senior director of financial planning and operations, explained that the cost of running the school increases annually, too. Not only that, but the Higher Education Price Index, which maps inflation rates at universities, tends to increase at twice the rate of the more commonly known Consumer Price Index. Most institutions deem annual tuition increases necessary. Metzger has to strike the balance between making college affordable for students and providing key services to them, Weaver explained.

“We’re maintaining a certain level of quality for all of our students,” Weaver said.

For the 2010-2011 academic year, the average housing price jumped from $4,400 to $4,544, a 3.27 percent increase, and the average meal plan increased 3.37 percent from $3,380 to $3,494. Together, the estimated cost for tuition, room and board for next year amount to $36,890, up 3.85 percent from this year’s $35,524. Talbot School of Theology and Rosemead School of Psychology will see similar tuition increases.

The price tags for the 2010-2011 academic year were approved last month, when the board of trustees gathered for the first of their thrice annual meetings. The board consists of ___ volunteer members, each of whom serves on at least one of seven committees — Student Development Committee, Trustee Affairs Committee, Academic Affairs Committee, Advancement Committee, Finance and Audit Committee and Facilities and Services Committee.

Although Corey said the university is heading in the right direction, he realized students need more assistance.

“We have a long way to go in the issue of affordability,” he said.

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