Student bills will go up nearly $1,500 next year as MVNU increases tuition, room and board by approximately 4.5 percent.
MVNU administrators said the increase will actually benefit the university. They plan to offset the cost to students with federally funded financial aid.
MVNU has considered lowering tuition in the past. However, lower costs would mean removing financial awards as MVNU would receive less federal funding. University administrators say this would cost both students and the university more in the long run.
“We play the game,” MVNU President Dr. Henry Spaulding said. “We raise tuition to give more awards.”
MVNU administrators have watched the federal funding game play out in their research of other universities. Some set their tuition, room and board rates at $35,000 with $15,000 awards available, while other schools raise their tuition to $45,000 and offer awards up to $20,000.
The research shows most students are drawn to the $20,000 award regardless of the net price. A pricing study supported this research and encouraged MVNU administration to raise its tuition.
James Smith, assistant vice president of enrollment, said the higher price tag means increased opportunities for financial aid, which he hopes will actually increase enrollment.
“We are trying to stay within the realm of our competitors,” Smith said. “What we have seen is that our tuition is less than others so they are able to give more scholarship money than we can.”
Most students and families make their college decision based largely on finances rather than academics or location. Higher enrollment means a more stable budget for MVNU.
According to Spaulding, MVNU students pay, on average, 50 percent of their tuition costs. The rest is covered by academic awards from the university as well as scholarships, grants and federal funding.
MVNU offers additional awards to students in specific circumstances on top of academic and need- based aid. However, in order to offer the academic, diversity, music, honors, missionary, ministry
and other awards, MVNU must receive adequate government funding.
Students were predictably unhappy about the prospect of a higher bill next year, but some said they could see the logic of the move.
“I wish they didn’t have to increase the tuition, but I understand that everything is going up nowadays,” sophomore math major Ashley Sawyer said. “I think it’s great that they can offer more scholarships to incoming freshmen so that more students can pursue an education at MVNU.”
Junior journalism and media production major Aubrey Bailey said she wasn’t surprised at the news. “It doesn’t shock me that tuition is increasing,”Bailey said. “Tuition increases for a lot of schools. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but it is inevitable.”
Smith agreed, pointing out that “99 percent of all colleges raise their tuition every year.”
Typically at MVNU, any tuition increase falls within 3-7 percent of the university’s current price. MVNU administration aims to keep the yearly increase below 5 percent.
“We want to be a leader in affordable education,” Smith said.
However, some students questioned exactly how their tuition and fees get spent by the university.
“I’m not happy about the increase, so it would also be nice to see a complete breakdown of where our money is going exactly,” junior nursing major Kalene Kennedy said.
MVNU administration approved the increase two years ago to help fund MVNU’s basic needs. Scholarships and discount rates for the incoming freshman class are the highest priorities.
Spaulding noted that, regardless of the tuition increase, MVNU remains cheaper than many state schools because of the awards and endowment scholarships offered by the university and its partners.
Using information from an article published by the Columbus Dispatch, MVNU administrators discovered that MVNU alumni fall on the lower end of student debt. The average MVNU graduate has less debt than nine of the state’s 14 public schools’ alumni. They also rank lower than 22 other private universities located in Ohio.
According to collegefactual.com, the average MVNU student borrows close to $8,000 per year. Four years of loans would mean about $32,000 in debt for a typical undergraduate degree.
When he heard about the increase, senior video and radio broadcast major Wesley Boston simply remarked, “Thank goodness I’m graduating!”