Dordt College will now be charging only $500 for tuition, according to a Monday announcement made by college president Erik Hoekstra.
The announcement follows the formation of an investigative committee in the fall of 2012, which was created in order to determine the actual cost of educating each student.
“That is the literal price that each student’s education costs,” said Hoekstra. “When you strip away all the extras, we can still provide a quality Christian education at a relatively affordable price.”
Dordt faculty hopes that this surprisingly gracious move will not only attract new students into the school’s programs, but also retain others who would have otherwise moved on.
“We noticed that while our freshman enrollment numbers are fairly consistent, each grade level gets successively smaller,” said Jim Bos, Dordt’s Associate Provost/Registrar.
According to documents released by the investigative committee, Dordt loses up to 30% of each class every year. The most common reasons for leaving are staying home to work or attending a cheaper college elsewhere.
“Dordt’s just way too expensive,” said one junior who asked to remain anonymous. “I can go to the community college by my house and pay less while working to earn money at the same time.”
It’s exactly these kinds of students that Dordt hopes to persuade to stay with their new lower tuition policy. But of course, sacrifices must be made in order to maintain such a ridiculously low price tag.
“Education is at the forefront of Dordt’s focus,” said Hoekstra. “In order to provide the best education, however, we’re going to have to strip down the frivolous extras.”
On the list of those activities and locations getting the axe are the recreation center, the Defender Grille, and health services.
The art, agriculture, digital media, engineering, and theater programs will also be severely curtailed.
“At $500 per student, things like the school farm and the digital media lab are just too much to maintain,” said Hoekstra.
These decisions have made students upset and indignant.
“A school with an agriculture program and no farm? A digital media major and no equipment? That’s just ridiculous. Not enough to convince me to stay,” said sophomore Vivian Messerschmidt.
Apparently the concerns over losing these student groups aren’t enough to deter the Dordt administration’s decision.
“We expect enrollment in our education and business departments to skyrocket,” Bos said.
The ramifications of this decision are sure to be felt throughout Sioux Center as the student demographic shifts and important community services are no longer offered. However, some students are expressing relief and joy over the news of the lower tuition.
“I’m so grateful to Dordt for lowering tuition,” said Sonny Daise, a freshman enrolled in the education department. “I was considering going back home to work, but now my family can afford to send me and my sister to a quality school.”
Ginger A. Snap, Staff Writer