The 2017-2018 financial state of California Lutheran University seems like business as usual looking toward the upcoming fiscal year.
According to Cal Lutheran’s annual report for the past fiscal year, “revenue exceeded expenses by $9.6 million,” though total revenue and gains decreased from $127.6 million to $126.4 million “primarily due to large capital giving in the prior year.”
Because of increased first-year class size, net tuition revenues increased from $77.7 million to $81.5 million. Expenses, however, have increased by nearly $4.8 million.
The Swenson Science Center’s construction has had great impact on the university’s financial state. In an email interview, Executive Assistant of University Advancement Sheann Avery said the majority of restricted gifts, or contributions given with usage guidelines, went to the science center and the ALLIES in STEM program.
The new 47,000 square-foot building will finish construction by fall 2022 at a total cost of $34 million. Currently, donors have pledged $20.8 million. Avery said a large majority of the nearly $10 million increase for non-operating revenue this past year was because of the science building campaign.
Aside from tuition, a majority of Cal Lutheran’s funding comes from donor gifts and pledges. The 2017-2018 fiscal year saw 11,332 gifts and pledges from 5,143 donors.
According to the 2017-2018 fiscal report, Cal Lutheran received $19.5 million in donor contributions. Nearly $18.5 million of this was restricted gifts, which includes scholarships, endowment, capital or deferred gifts.
Avery said that aside from the science center and STEM program, contributions went toward KCLU radio station, scholarships and “unrestricted support for Cal Lutheran and PLTS.”
This is actually a $3 million decrease from the contributions in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, as well as a $7 million decrease in endowment income and a $1.2 million decrease in deferred gifts. However, Avery said this decrease is nothing to be concerned about yet.
“We generally see ebbs and flows in regards to fundraising from year to year,” Avery said.
The cost of attendance for the 2018-2019 school year at Cal Lutheran is $56,342 for on-campus undergraduates, including $42,210 in tuition. Over 97 percent of students at Cal Lutheran receive financial aid, with financial aid packages averaging $34,800, according to Cal Lutheran’s website.
Assistant Director of Financial Aid Amy Landes said from the 2017-2018 school year to the 2018-2019 school year, there was a 3.25 percent increase in tuition at $1,330 for undergraduate students.
Many students think the Office of Financial Aid is in charge of tuition increases and endowed scholarships, but instead the Board of Regents and University Advancement make these decisions, respectively.
Academic, talent or service-based scholarships such as the Yellow Ribbon scholarship or the Public Price Promise scholarship are handled by the Office of Admissions, which are handled differently than endowed scholarships.
Unlike endowed scholarships which allow students to receive money from multiple donors, academic, talent or service-based scholarships cannot be stacked, even if a student is eligible for multiple scholarships. Landes said that federal regulation prevents total scholarship packages from exceeding the cost of attendance.
At Cal Lutheran, these scholarships do not increase alongside tuition increases during a student’s four years, but scholarships for incoming first-years are adjusted to the current tuition. Landes said the only scholarships that increase proportionally are full-tuition Presidential scholarships and the Public Price Promise, which increases alongside tuition for certain University of California schools.
“Scholarship amounts change annually for incoming students, and so it does take into consideration the typical four to six percent increases in different cost items within the cost of attendance,” Landes said. “Typically, we can’t ever guarantee the increase, so maybe one year it maybe 3.7 percent, but then the next year it may be 5.6.”
Cal Lutheran’s financial aid page compares itself to Chapman University because of similar numbers and financial aid practices. In an email interview, Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid at Chapman University David Carnevale said their average financial aid package in 2016-2017 was $23,000. Carnevale said 88 percent of students receive financial aid. Additionally, Chapman saw a 3.9 percent increase in tuition and fees from the 2016-2017 to 2017-2018 academic years.
Similar to Cal Lutheran, Chapman awards merit and talent-based scholarships at admission, and the scholarship amount remains the same for all four years.
For more information about the financial state of the university, the 2017-2018 annual report is published on the university website.