Undergrad tuition increases 4%

Undergrad tuition increases 4%
On average, Augustana’s tuition has increased steadily over recent years. Graphic by Olivia Bertino.

After tuition was frozen during the 2020-2021 school year, Augustana will increase undergraduate tuition by 3.84%

Augustana will increase undergraduate tuition by nearly 4% for the 2022-23 academic year, up from the 0% for the 2021-2022 year.

This increase translates to an additional $1,398 for undergraduates in the upcoming school year. In addition to the tuition increase, student fees will rise  by $30 to a total of $1,010.

These increases follow a tuition freeze for the 2021-2022 school year, which was enacted to alleviate financial challenges students and their families may have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The upcoming increase in tuition, however, is not a result of the tuition freeze, according to President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

“We want to run a balanced budget,” Herseth Sandlin said.

And the balanced budget is affected in large part by market conditions, as well as a variety of other factors.

“When you think about what goes into an annual operating budget, it includes all of the academic and instructional programming,” Herseth Sandlin said. “It includes salaries, support services for students, operations, maintenance of buildings. There’s a lot that goes into this.”

According to Herseth Sandlin, students are told before they come to Augustana to expect a yearly tuition increase of 2-3% on average over the course of their four-year education. In the past six years, tuition has increased by an average of 2.9%.

To calculate tuition for the upcoming year, CFO and Executive Vice President Shannan Nelson said the university uses a financial forecasting model that takes into account annual operating costs, inflation, unemployment, household income and high school graduation rates.

Herseth Sandlin said the university also assesses regional competitiveness when determining tuition, and that the 4% increase does not make Augustana an “outlier” regarding cost.

“When we look at the competitive landscape, we are in the 50th percentile of affordability,” Herseth Sandlin said.

That means that Augustana is right around the average tuition compared to other regional schools.

Graphic by Olivia Bertino. Information provided by Niche. Niche uses the number of students who receive financial aid at a school and the amount of aid they receive to determine the average cost of tuition for the institution for one year.

Although Augustana’s tuition is in line with the regional average when compared to peer institutions, students like junior Henry Van Bemmel think it’s important to know why the increase is necessary.

“College is already really expensive,” Van Bemmel said. “I don’t think that many students who faced financial hardship due to COVID have been able to get back on their feet yet.”

To compensate for the increase in tuition, Herseth Sandlin said the university increased funding for scholarship programs by over 30% and that they are continuing to look into other resources to fund scholarships.

Looking toward the future, Herseth Sandlin said Augustana hopes to keep the average yearly tuition increase around the historical average of 3%.

“Our goal is to continue to partner with all of our budget managers and stakeholders across campus to continue to run lean, because we know that from an affordability standpoint, we want to do right by our students,” Herseth Sandlin said.