Why (and how) your tuition costs go up

Kendra Nixon interviewed Dr. Scott Strawn to explain how and why tuition costs go up. Photo by Flickr user 401(k) 2013 used under Creative Commons license.

By Kendra Nixon, Content Editor

Ever wonder where tuition costs come from or how they are decided? Scott Strawn, VP for Business and Finance explains how SNU’s tuition amount is decided each year.
Strawn and the school board meet annually to decide what tuition, along with other costs, will be for the following academic year. Factors that go into this decision include comparing costs of other institutions, economic influx and simply finding the “sweet spot” for delivering high quality education.
“Our board is very sensitive to tuition costs,” Strawn said. The board tries to keep in line with inflation and face costs like businesses do. The number of scholarships and financial aid impacts the ability to deliver quality education. SNU receives around $1.75 million from churches and alums. In total, each student receives on average around $1,000 from scholarships and financial aid.

“The rules and regulations of financial aid have gone crazy,” Strawn said.
His job as the VP for Business and Finance is to provide quality education and keep up with other private, Christian universities without over-charging the students. Tuition has increased each year an average of 6.3% from 1999-2012. However, the average increase of tuition, fees, and room and board all together is 5.6%. SNU is considered to be on the lower-end of the scale in comparison to other private, Christian universities. Each university has the same obligations to keep in line with inflation, health insurance increases, and financial aid rules and regulations.
Even though it is his first year as VP for Business and Finance, Strawn admits that SNU hasn’t done a good enough job of communicating price increases to students. This information is available online, but Strawn is looking into ways to make the information more accessible. The full board will meet in May to discuss the tuition price for the 2013-2014 academic year. After they meet, the cabinet must approve and the information is sent out for incoming students. The advertised price for the university fluctuates based on where the student lives, meal plans, whether they use SNU’s health insurance or not, as well as other factors.
Tuition varies on the many programs that SNU provides. Programs include traditional undergraduate, adult studies, degree completion, or international students. The price configuration can be found at http://snu.edu/future-students.