By: Hannah Waldera
For many college students, tuition is often a make-or-break factor in their college decision. Some students purposely choose in-state public colleges because they typically have lower costs compared to private colleges. Previously, Graceland had their tuition set for around $32K a year, but with the help of loans and scholarships, their overall tuition price becomes much lower for students. On September 19th, Graceland announced to students that they are lowering the tuition price to about $20K a year. For some, this came with a positive reaction to the idea that current students will be paying less than before. However, that is not necessarily the case.
After the announcement of the tuition cut, each student received a letter explaining their financial package for the next year with the new tuition in place. For many students, they will end up paying the same as they have in the past. The only difference is scholarships and other expenses have been cut, making this possible so students are not paying a different price than before.
The big question people are most curious about is: What purpose does this serve? Graceland already has a low number of students compared to other colleges. But, with the tuition reduction, Graceland looks more appealing to future students, which could possibly increase the student body. When people search for colleges online and in a specific price range, Graceland often does not show up because our overall tuition was a high sticker price, even though most students do not pay the full amount. Potential students do not know that Graceland offers scholarships that bring their out-of-pocket prices down drastically. With the help of the tuition reduction, Graceland may turn more heads of potential students since their tuition has dropped, compared to other colleges in the United States that are raising their tuition.
Deb Skinner, the vice president of enrollment and strategic growth at Graceland, is at the frontline of this topic. Skinner is an advocate for the tuition reduction and explains the reasoning behind the change and how they were able to do it. Skinner explains that each year, Graceland must report the actual average out-of-pocket tuition to the Department of Education. They learned that the average tuition was a little over $18K. This allowed Graceland to reduce the tuition to around $20K, which caused them to reduce scholarships by the same percentage. While it seems that this does not change much for current students, there are still negative views from students.
Administration claims that the main purpose in tuition reduction is to make Graceland look more appealing and increase the number of students. Some students are questioning why Graceland needs more students. Katie Muenchrath, a sophomore at Graceland, brings attention to a main concern from the student body of housing facilities. Muenchhrath says, “There is already not much room for current students, so how is adding a lot more students beneficial?” This has been a current issue, especially with the rapidly growing number of men on campus. However, this change could offer more renovations in buildings and living spaces to accommodate for the new people that enroll if the tuition reduction works as Graceland hopes. As someone who lives on a small women’s hall where there are many open rooms, this change could bring more female students and increase attendance to help make the Graceland experience better.
While the tuition reduction seems to only serve the purpose of future students and increase Graceland’s student body, this change can have a lasting effect on current students. With more people being enrolled on campus, it can bring a better experience and new faces that can create lasting relationships and friendships. Skinner does not refer to this topic as a tuition cut but rather a “tuition transformation.” It opens the door for new students and offers pride for current students to be a part of a university that is taking the initiative to lower their cost of tuition.