Senior Cady Millage, who figured the increase was related to the economy, is feeling the effects of the increase as she begins her last semester at Dordt. “I did notice a difference. Being it was my fourth year, I didn’t want to look for other schools at this point and decided to endure another student loan.”
While many students may think the tuition “hike” is a result of the current harsh state of the economy, they may be surprised to find out that the economy has had little impact on the increase.
The reason for the increase, according to Vice President of Business Affairs Arlan Nederhoff, is two-fold.
One main reason is that Dordt’s healthcare insurance has undergone a 50 percent increase over the past academic year. Dordt has always been self-insured, which is typically the cheaper option, but recent “unique” insurance claims by employees and students have caused Dordt’s healthcare insurance costs to skyrocket.
In order to make up for this increase, more money has to be taken from tuition, as well as from employees.
“Our health insurance cost from the 2010-2011 school year to the 2011-2012 school year went up about 50 percent,” said Nederhoff. “The insurance for the students went up, but we’ve also seen it as employers. The employees are paying more for their share of the premium.”
Another reason for the increase in tuition has to do with the awards and student aid that Dordt gives out to incoming freshman.
Over the past few years, according to Nederhoff, Dordt has noticed that other competing colleges tend to give out larger scholarships to prospective students than Dordt does. In order for Dordt to be able to present prospective students with larger scholarships, they had to up the tuition.
“This year our tuition increase was right at 5 percent, but if you look at where we ended up net-tuition-wise, which is basically after we provide all the financial aid to students, we ended up probably with somewhere around a net-increase of 3 percent,” said Nederhoff. “So yes, tuition went up about 5 percent, but Dordt actually got about 3 percent because we gave more dollars back to students in the form of financial aid.”
Though the tuition cost is higher, prospective students are receiving more in scholarships than students have in the past.
“Students still like to look at that scholarship and say ‘I’m getting more money to go [there], so that’s where I’m going to go,’” said Nederhoff.
While incoming freshmen may be benefitting from more student-aid, returning student’s financial aid remains the same for several reasons.
“Dordt doesn’t reduce awards based on the fact that your high school GPA was 3.75 but your college GPA dropped to 3.4,” said Nederhoff. “Likewise, we also don’t increase awards when the scholarship grid is updated for a new freshman incoming class.”
Though the increase may be emptying out student’s banks, many still feel that Dordt is worth every penny.
“Dordt is a great college and I am fully confident I made the right decision in coming to Dordt,” said Millage. “It is worth the price – for now – but if prices keep going up, people are going to shy away.”
While students and parents may be concerned about the growing tuition rates, the increases have been carefully examined and decided by multiple levels of administrators at Dordt College.
“We’ve had board members that push us as an administration to say ‘is this a reasonable tuition increase and are you using the dollars wisely?’” said Nederhoff. “A lot of time and thought goes into building the budget and trying to make sure that we’re being responsible stewards of the dollars.”\
Kelly Zatlin, Head Editor