Proposal to Change Yearly Tuition Hike

The Associated Students of  California Lutheran University Government have proposed a resolution calling for a more predictable tuition increase for students in the foreseeable academic years. The resolution was unanimously passed November 13 by ASCLUG.

Matthew Ward, the vice president of Enrollment Management and Marketing who helped draft the tuition resolution, said the proposal urges Cal Lutheran administration to increase tuition, room and board by no more than the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers from the previous fiscal year plus 0.5 percent. 

ASCLU President Nick Steinwender collaborated with Ward to draft the resolution and consider different alternatives on how to make tuition increases more predictable and structured, which is described in the proposal to Senate, Programs Board, administration and Board of Regents.

“It isn’t realistic to freeze tuition increases because we would suffer as students and the quality of education we would receive would inevitably decrease. This is why we proposed an increase of 0.7 percent in addition to the consumer price index for tuition increase and a 0.5 percent increase for room and board,” Steinwender said. “However, it’s ultimately up to the discretion of the cabinet if they choose to increase expenses in addition to that.”

The Board of Regents voted three weeks ago to increase tuition by 3 percent for the 2018-19 academic year and increase room and board expenses by 2.7 percent.

There are certain costs associated with Cal Lutheran increasing their tuition from year to year. The tuition proposal states that the university’s costs of operation 2016-17 increased by 2.75 percent.

“The largest anticipated expense increases for the university are debt service, health insurance for employees and students, minimum wage increases and inflationary increases to goods and services like software licensing, travel expenses and utilities,” Ward said.

Steinwender said having a more predictable tuition, room and board increase will add to the competitiveness of Cal Lutheran among comparative institutions and attract prospective students.

Many University of California and private institutions do not offer as much financial aid as Cal Lutheran, where students pay about half the total tuition cost of $60,000 because of the 49.4 percent discount rate, which makes tuition costs comparably lower.

According to several surveys reported by The Century Foundation, an academic institution’s reputation is a leading factor in a prospective student’s decision to attend a university, and having a particular academic program alongside a generous financial aid award letter is the second most important factor. 

“For me, money was an integral factor in deciding whether or not to come to Cal Lutheran. My scholarship allowed me to attend this university and going abroad really put into perspective how important it is to budget your money,” said junior Adriana Bruzonne.

Bruzonne said it can be difficult for students to predict expenses of attending college when tuition costs change yearly.

Both Ward and Steinwender agree that if the resolution is passed, it will advance the needs of students in terms of tuition and financial expectancy.

“The resolution resonated with the cabinet as it was deliberating over setting tuition, room and board costs this year. Using CPI as a benchmark is a reasonable suggestion for setting prices, though any index is going to have its flaws when used in such a specific way. We need to continue the dialogue,” Ward said.

Steinwender views the resolution as a conversation-starter, but says the university did not fully adopt what was previously proposed. He said he has spent the past few months engaging in dialogue with the administration, and the university is taking into consideration what the students want.

Kendra Salo