Diminishing enrollment at SPU

Jessica Bollinger

With the 2017-2018 school year coming to a close, seniors are getting ready for graduation while returning students are trying to figure out what the next school year will look like for them.

In an email sent earlier this year, on March 2, President Dan Martin explained how the following school year’s tuition would be going up by 5.1 percent, raising the cost of attendance from $52,125 for a full year to $54,735, including room and board.

Following the email, there were various conversations around campus about why the cost in tuition went up. There was also talk about whether the rise in tuition was fair, and whether students would be able to afford it.

Many students at SPU rely on grants, scholarships and loans to help them pay for tuition. In many cases, the cost of attendance that is laid out on SPU’s webpage is not always an accurate representation of what students actually pay to attend this school.

But for Natalie McConnell, a second-year music therapy student, there is reason to be concerned in the rising costs.

Because tuition has gone up each year, some students like McConnell either did not receive as many scholarships as they had in the past, or were unable to get the financial aid help they needed to compensate for the rise in tuition.

“This year, I didn’t get as many scholarships as I did last year and that made things a lot more expensive for me,” McConnell explained.

Due to this rise in tution, many students have had to rearrange their living situations to compensate for the rise in cost, while some have even had to make the decision to no longer attend SPU.

“When I got my financial aid estimate, I couldn’t afford to live on campus, so a week before school started, I had to drop out of housing and began messaging people for places to live,” McConnell said. “Luckily, in the end, my pastor and his wife let me rent out a room from them for only $400 a month.”

With the recent drop of enrollment at SPU, many students have speculated that enrollment is one of the reasons why tuition prices have gone up each year, especially this next school year.

“SPU is all about trying to get more students to attend school here, but they are also focused on diversity in their enrollment,” third-year Monica Moeng said. “But, with less people wanting to come to SPU, tuition is rising.”

With the latest rise in tuition, students like Moeng and McConnell want to know why it keeps rising, if it will continue to affect enrollment here at SPU, creating a damaging cycle, and if it could possibly affect current students at SPU as well.

“Next year I am going to be an R.A. in Emerson, so I get help from the school for room and board being in that position,” said McConnell. “But if I hadn’t gotten that position, I may have had to consider dropping out, which is hard to do when you are already two years into your major.”

Whether it is the lack of enrollment over the last school year or if it is other unforeseen reasons for why tuition has jumped up 5.1 percent from last year, students want answers and they want to know what the future of SPU holds for them.

“What bothers me is that tuition keeps rising and I don’t know why,” Moeng said.