Record enrollment consequential for Dordt financials

Georgia Lodewyk—Staff Writer

Every year Dordt University arrives with a new set of firsts. This 2021-2022 academic year is no different. Dordt’s record-high enrollment brings new opportunities and potential challenges to the institution—from housing to Core 100 professors. But, while enrollment continues to rise year after year, Dordt’s net tuition revenue remains flat.

Stephanie Baccam, vice president for finance & risk management, attributes multiple reasons to this development, including the additional expenses that accompany a large, incoming freshman class. 

“Even though you have more students and you’re sending them a bill, only a portion of that is true revenue because of financial aid.” Baccam said. 

Dordt has hired more professors and increased their food supply at the Commons and Grille to accommodate for more hungry brains and mouths. These costs cut away at the institution’s true profit. Still, while most businesses worry about these numbers, Dordt’s case is different.

“We don’t target to make money as an institution, but we do have to target to break even,” Baccam said. 

Dordt decides on the tuition rate for the upcoming year in October. Then, they break down the numbers: How many students will graduate? How many students, including incoming freshmen, will enroll in the fall? It’s like guessing from a crystal ball, Baccam jokes.

Though tuition increases are to be counted on (ideally no more than 3 percent a year, Baccam says), Dordt’s discount prices increase along with it. These financial aid awards aim to draw students away from competing colleges with equally substantial discounts.

As scholarship opportunities continue to rise, Dordt also provides aid through the supplemental data form students fill out yearly. Each year, Dordt doles out one million dollars in annual scholarships. Huisman says these scholarships promote to campus growth but take from away from the college’s revenue. Both Huisman and Baccam believe the cost is worthy of the expense.

“We’ve had full dorms here on campus and we’ve had full classrooms, Huisman said. “And we think that is a healthier campus community for us so we’re going to do everything we can to keep it that way,”

In addition, donor funding also provides money for named scholarships and aid, along with support for Dordt’s building projects. In the past, donors have completely funded projects like the $20 million construction of the Science and Technology Center. This year, donors have given over $900,000 in endowment scholarships to students. 

“A big thing that we are very grateful for is our donors,” Baccam said. “Every year I’ve been here, our donations continue to grow.”

Looking toward the future, Dordt hopes to continue to keep tuition costs down for students while also building a yearly budget that allows the university to break even and continue to grow as an institution.

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