SPU announces 25% tuition reduction

Tuition, scholarship, aid restructured, SPU hopes to reach more incoming students

Julia Herman, Editor-in-Chief

For the first time in over 25 years, tuition at Seattle Pacific University will be lowered rather than increased.

In an email sent out to the student body on Monday, September 21st, SPU announced they will be decreasing their tuition from $46,728 to $35,100, a 25% reduction for students applying for the Autumn 2021 school year.

Along with the decreased tuition, SPU made the decision to cap the yearly increase at 4%. Over the years, students have seen tuition increase an average of 5% every year.

This is done with the hope that this new initiative will attract more students. In an interview with The Falcon, Nate Mouttet, Vice President for Enrollment Managing and Marketing and Jordan Grant, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Operations and Student Financial Services discussed how they believe many prospective students are choosing to disregard SPU during the college search process when they see the top-listed price on the site.

Courtesy of Seattle Pacific University

“Families are looking at that top line price and just saying ‘I know I probably won’t be paying that entire amount but that’s still a high amount’” said Mouttet.

Each year as tuition has gone up, the University has tried to also bring up scholarship offers for each incoming class. However, they realized even with scholarships increasing that having such high tuition was creating a barrier in reaching students.

“If prices have gone up and up and so have scholarships and grants,” said Mouttet. “Then this cycle has gone virtually unstoppable and so you realize we have to hit a reset and bring them both down into a reasonable range.”

Along with the reduction in tuition comes a full restructure to the scholarships and grants that students will be offered in their financial aid package.

Historically, SPU has offered merit-based scholarships, athletic scholarships, and religious affiliation scholarships. Many of these scholarships will still be offered but many will be restructured to fit the new reduced price of tuition at SPU, as well as new scholarships will be available.

The new scholarships that the University will be offering are the Falcon Bound Scholarship, Faith for the Future Commitment Scholarship, and an in-state price match to those who are eligible.

The Falcon Bound Scholarship works with students who applied for the Washington College Bound Program when they were in middle school. Students who are eligible for the scholarship will receive tuition covered in full for their four years of college.

The Faith for the Future Commitment scholarship covers 50% of tuition for students who receive it. While admissions reviews prospective students’ applications, they will look for students who show an active commitment to their faith to see who is eligible for this scholarship.

The in-state price match is eligible for students from Washington, California, Hawaii or Oregon who would have been accepted into their state flagship school’s programs such as the University of Washington or University California, Berkeley, and match that price based on qualifying GPA and test scores.

“A lot of scholarships have historically been based on test scores,” said Mouttet. “We realized this before COVID, but it became even more painfully clear with COVID that there is an equity and access issue around tests, so we are really trying to not base most of our scholarships on test scores because we are going test-optional.”

For students who are currently enrolled at SPU, they will lower the rate of tuition and adjust aid so their out of pocket cost will stay at the same price as this year for the following year.

“Current students will also benefit from this initiative for their remaining years at SPU, and all students, including seniors, will receive one free additional course (up to five credits) after graduation,” said SPU in a press release statement.

Although current students will not have access to the new scholarships that will be offered to the class 2025 and beyond, they will be receiving a financial aid package that keeps their out of pocket cost the same as it would have been without the change.

Grant said both the reduction in tuition price and the cap on future increases will really begin to help currently enrolled students starting the 2022-2023 school year as the maximum 4% increase will apply to the newly reduced tuition rather than the prior $46,728.

Student tuition is one of the main sources of revenue for the university, however, even with the decrease in tuition and cap on the rate of tuition increase. Mouttet said SPU has carefully planned so this commitment will be sustainable.

“We are largely undergraduate tuition-dependent,” said Mouttet. “The reality is we can attract around 40 to 50 more students at the freshman level, and everybody can pay less but more people will be paying toward it so we will get to the same amount of tuition needed, but without having to charge each person as much.”

Students will be able to access their financial aid packages for the next year in Banner. Student Financial Services and Enrollment Management and Marketing leadership will be hosting a virtual Town Hall session on Sep. 23 at 3 p.m. where students can ask any questions they have.

Correction: An earlier version of the article said that previous scholarships would be gone, however, they will just be restructured to fit the new tuition model.