Every year, it seems that college tuition increases with the predictability of the changing seasons and the endless Knollcrest vs. Commons debates.
However, Joel DeBruin, Calvin’s director of finance, explained that the 3.49 percent tuition increase that Calvin will be seeing in the 2015-2016 school year is actually the lowest increase in the past couple of years.
In the past three years, Calvin’s tuition has increased by 4.50 percent, 5.83 percent and 4.91 percent.
DeBruin discussed the various parties that have input in the process of determining the cost of tuition at Calvin, including parties both inside and outside of the college.
“We talk to some consultants to understand what the environment is overall from a college education atmosphere and the Cabinet weighs in,” he said, “Enrollment and admissions talk to us about what they believe they need for financial aid purposes to stay competitive and affordable for the students that are coming in.”
These things are all taken into consideration before a tuition recommendation is made, which then goes through the Cabinet, the Planning and Priorities Committee and ultimately gets brought before the board.
DeBruin explained that, although there’s no formal survey made of the Calvin students, the admissions and enrollment team keeps in touch with incoming and existing Calvin families as well as Calvin students to understand the needs regarding tuition.
“They’re giving us a perspective of saying, ‘I think we really need to keep our tuition at x, and we really think we need to go here with our financial aid plan,’… and they have a lot of influence in the discussion around tuition.”
DeBruin also mentioned that there are several students on the Planning and Priorities Committee who are able to provide their input on tuition prices. However, he explained that it’s not realistic to freeze tuition.
“Wages increase, and the cost of utilities and benefits goes up. But at the same time we understand that we want to keep [Calvin] competitive and affordable, so we balance what the tuition needs to go up versus the financial aid [that’s available].”
The financial aid program is actually getting richer, so when looking at the overall budget for next year, the net tuition increase is budgeted to be around 1.25 percent.
Enough financial aid is being provided to cover the gap between that 1.25 percent and the 3.49 percent that is the actual tuition increase.
DeBruin said that, simply, this means “that although the tuition’s going up, the financial aid is going up by more.”
The bottom line for Calvin is to remain competitive, affordable and financially stable.
“What we try to do is keep the tuition affordable, so we’ve worked hard to keep it at a lower increase than what it’s been in the past, still realizing that costs go up for a college. So we try to balance between the two while remaining affordable for the students.”