- Joe BensonAssistant Provost, University of Denver
- Gregg KvistadProvost, University of Denver
Implement Tuition Lock-In at the University of Denver
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College tuition rates rise an average of 3 percent per year, in comparison to the average income rising at only 0.4 percent per year. Meanwhile, some colleges have raised their tuition rates by almost 200% since 2000. Statistics such as these worry students who may be tightly budgeting in order to get through their four years of higher education. There is a solution to these worries, however. Schools such as CU Boulder have implemented policies that guarantee students the same rate of tuition for four years. The University of Denver should follow suit and make this option available, to create peace of mind for students and increase marketability to incoming students.
- Assistant Provost, University of Denver
- Provost, University of Denver
Dear Provost Kvistad,
As students at the University of Denver, we have been very privileged to be able to witness the world-class opportunities and professors on offer at this private institution. This university tends to offer a tremendous return on investment, and most students share this sentiment. However, the recent raise in tuition announced for next year led to a massive amount of consternation and frustration from the student body. While tuition raises such as this may be considered commonplace in the modern era, these actions have a negative effect on students, most of whom applied to this university under the impression that they could afford the price they were quoted at for four years. Tuition increases cast unnecessary doubt upon these foundational impressions, and can go so far as to erode trust in the institution. However, there is an equitable solution to this problem in the form of the policy change the signees of this petition have voiced their support for. This policy has already been adopted by many schools around the nation. Schools such as the local CU Boulder and the similar institution George Washington University have adopted so-called “tuition lock-in” policies, where students are guaranteed the same rate for tuition for up to four years. If DU joined this rising tide of promising students financial certainty, the school would likely become even more marketable to students of all backgrounds, strengthen the university’s commitment to supporting and caring about its students, and provide a needed measure of certainty to students in a world of ever-increasing tuition.
In an era where presidential candidates generated prodigious amounts of support for their promise to forgive student loan debt and offer free collegiate educations, it is readily apparent that the cost of college is a massive worry for many. As reported by the Washington Post, wages have increased on average 0.4 percent a year while college tuition increases at a rate of 3 percent per year. This imbalance means that more and more students are given cause to worry about whether they will be able to afford their education by the end of their four-year or longer commitment to the institution. While it is understandable that universities must keep up with changing times by passing some of their costs on to their “customers”, this understanding can only go so far before students begin to worry and blame their institution. These sentiments lead to transfers and drop-outs, two outcomes that have a negative impact on the benefits offered to the university by raising tuition rates. The solution to these worries, however, lies in a guarantee made to students that the tuition rate they plan for and commit to in their senior year of high school will be the same as the rate charged in their final year of school.
By allowing students to “lock-in” their tuition rate for four years, schools like CU, George Washington, and the University of Kansas offer students confidence and certainty. These schools have implemented policies where they project their financial status four years into the future and offer students tuition rates for their degree programs based upon these projections. Each incoming class tends to be quoted at a different price than the last, offering flexibility for the university. Students are still comforted by this policy, as they know that every day they spend on campus costs the same amount, regardless of how the school has spent its money. Although the initial increase in tuition tends to be around 4 percent to offset the initial costs and stabilize projections, students will gladly pay this small difference in return for four years of certainty.
Most students agree with this policy, represented by the signees of this petition, but undoubtedly some may have qualms with the aforementioned slight increase in cost, and the institution itself may not appreciate the reduction in flexibility associated with this policy. These qualms are understandable, but solvable. Students could be offered the choice between guaranteed tuition plans and the traditional structure, enabling them to take the gamble if they want more instantaneous financial gratification, with the caveat that this decision cannot be changed later on to minimize logistical headaches. For administrators such as yourself, it is likely questionable as to whether the loss in financial flexibility is offset by the student support and admissions marketability. Based upon the retention and graduation rates of the comparable George Washington University, the loss is an acceptable one. While our graduation and retention rates are laudable at 76.5 and 83 percent respectively, George Washington boasts impressive rates of 79.5 and 93 percent. These numbers are truly remarkable for a school, and it is undoubtable that the high rates are at least partially to do with the commitment the school has made to its students. In addition, there is overwhelming student support for a policy implementation such as this, meaning a massive amount of goodwill could be generated towards the school, and the school is still relatively flexible financially by changing the rate for the next class of students if it needs to. In addition, a move such as the one outlined above would likely result in a positive reaction from alumni, who would be more inclined to donate to the school.
Tuition lock-in seems like a foregone conclusion to us students who adore this university in the era following massive increases in tuition costs and mounting student loan debt. This policy is relatively simple in nature, and has paid tremendous dividends to schools of our stature recently. It is in our best interest to at least further explore the merits and potential stopping points of this policy, and many more students than the signees have shared their opinions on this issue. DU offers tremendous return on investment already, and by freezing the size of this investment, this school would be even more marketable and beneficial for its students. Thank you for reading this letter, and we hope you consider this policy and learn more about our sentiments on this crucial issue.
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