If the incoming freshmen for the 2016-2017 school year were heading to college the year they were born, 1997, they would pay just $14,130 in tuition for a year at Seattle Pacific University. Instead, for their first year of college they are set to pay about $38,520.
The increase of $1,836 is five percent more than the 2015-2016 costs.
Sophomore Marlena Cua finds that knowing such facts makes her more acutely aware of the gift she receives from her parents through education. Upon hearing that tuition was $13,479 on the year she was born, she shakes her head and shrugs.
“At first it’s really shocking to hear that, but then it gets really sad,” she says. “Meaning that education is getting harder and harder to achieve, and it’s frustrating almost.”
In an email to students on Saturday, March 5, President Daniel Martin outlined tuition for the 2016-2017 school year. According to Martin’s email, increases in minimum wage, enrollment changes and inflation are cause for the increase.
According to Vice President for Business and Finance Craig Kispert, data points that measure inflation such as the consumer price index, the higher education price index and local indexes for Seattle are used to calculate the budget. These numbers help determine future costs for the university.
The higher education price index focuses on issues and measurements most important to universities, whereas the consumer price index is more general, says Kispert.
The Student Budget Committee, Faculty Budget and Stewardship Committee and the Senior Leadership Team partake in the planning process for calculating tuition.
Kispert encourages students to look at the net tuition price versus the gross tuition price, because for the average student these are the numbers that will affect them more significantly because they factor in financial aid.
“Gross would be the sticker price you would see, but then net is what you look at with financial aid and all those adjustments,” Kispert says. “On the aggregate that net number is lower.”
However, Sophomore Leah Ekblad says that this increase in financial aid didn’t increase her scholarship when tuition was raised last year.
“I didn’t get any scholarship increases last year and so I had to pay like, $5,000 more this year,” Ekblad says. “So that’s kind of frustrating to me.”
With most freshmen and sophomores at SPU living in the dorms, students will see the average cost for such on-campus housing rise to 10,824 in 2016-2017, a price which reflects a traditional residence hall and weekly block meal plan.
In 1996, students paid just $5,244 for room and board.
In his email, Martin notes that SPU was ranked No. 2 in Best Value Colleges in the West in “U.S. News & World Report’s” 2016 college rankings. Overall SPU is ranked number 17 for regional colleges in the west.
According to Kispert. compiling tuition involves looking at competitor and peer institutions such as Whitworth, Pacific Lutheran University, Gonzaga and Seattle University. Kispert points out that out of these peer institutions SPU is still at the lower end of the price spectrum.
For junior Wendy Foster, the price and financial aid at SPU were major factors in her decision to attend the university. She believes the cost and financial aid packages offered are a large selling point and factor in other student’s decision to attend SPU.
“We might lose people who want to come here because there are a lot of schools like this and I feel like the selling point for this school is the financial aid,” Jones says.
According to The Institute for College Access and Success, an independent non project which supports research on educational outcomes, the average debt of SPU graduates in 2014 was $28, 844 with 71% of students graduating with debt.
If it wasn’t for financial aid and volleyball scholarships, sophomore Hannah Lautenbach’s would have a harder time paying for college at SPU.
“I see people struggle with loans and debt after college,” Lautenbach says. “It’s hard because how are you supposed to get a job and go out into the real world with this debt?”
Assistant News Editor Manola Secaira contributed to the reporting in this article.