College affordability ranking sheds light on Biola’s financial aid efforts

Biola ranks number 41 in an affordability ranking of Online Colleges in California.

Biola ranks 41st in an affordability ranking. | Screenshot taken from

Augusta McDonnell, Writer

Biola ranks 41st in an affordability ranking. | Screenshot taken from

Biola ranked No. 41 in Affordable Colleges Online’s ranking of “Online Colleges in California That Win on Affordability.” Colleges making the list offer nationally accredited online degree programs at prices lower than most post-secondary competitors, according to Bryce Hall, representative for Affordable Colleges Online. The ranking is based on unbiased government data that was compiled by researchers at Affordable Colleges Online, a San Francisco-based group.

Administration officials concerned about the ballooning student debt load have developed methods for managing the costs of attending Biola. The administration emphasizes presenting students with the lowest possible net inflation-adjusted tuition increase each year, explained Michael Pierce, Biola’s vice president of business and financial affairs.

One effort being made to lower the overall cost of attending Biola is launching more online classes and programs for students, which are being offered at nearly a third of the price of an on-campus Biola credit, Pierce said. Financial officials are hoping that these online classes will aid in accommodating students’ schedules, allowing them to complete their degrees in less time and enter the workforce sooner.

Freshmen are the focus of a new program opened in summer 2013 called “Smart Start,” which allows students to take two 100-level Bible classes at a cheaper cost before they even begin at Biola, Pierce said.

Community investment in money and wisdom

Third-party donations also account for a large amount of the money invested into Biola’s campus and extracurricular activities, eliminating the need for these programs to be supported through student dues, Pierce explained.

According to Pierce, the university is supported on many levels by donors who simply love Biola — people whose lives have been radically changed by Christ and who believe strongly in the work of the university. These donations have built up a large scholarship fund reserved for students.

“You guys are the light of the world, and donors recognize that,” Pierce said.

Next year’s 2014-2015 tuition increase will be announced in early February 2014. It must be approved by a board of 20 trustees who serve as both accountability and support in determining the budget for each academic year.

Student input

Freshman intercultural studies major Jean Hwang explained that although she was in a fairly solid place financially due to a scholarship, she also knows students who are stressed about their finances. Hwang recognizes that the years spent at college are very important, but would sacrifice some aspects of college life to avoid taking on too much debt.

Sophomore business major Karl Reimer and junior communications major Zachary Pennell — both transfer students — discussed the pros and cons of attending Biola. Pennell said that his debt will be manageable since he had saved up money for his education and is receiving an academic award.

Reimer said Biola is not very affordable, and people end up getting into debt. However, students are paying for a premier product with good Christian teaching, he said. 

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