Undergraduate tuition will increase another 6.5 percent for the 2012-2013 academic year, bringing the total to $33,400.
The increase was approved by the Board of Trustees on Nov. 4.
“Just to operate the university, with this very complex and comprehensive program of activities, is expensive and some of our costs just go up, even if we do not do anything above and beyond,” Vice Provost Homa Shabahang said.
According to Shabahang, approximately 3 percent of the increase will return directly to the students in the form of financial aid.
“Some of that (remaining) 3.5 percent pays for what we call cost of living increases and then there is very little margin left after that to start new initiatives,” Shabahang added.
“To be able to provide a complete education so that students can graduate in four years, we need to have all those elements in place, so when we talk about tuition increase, it’s to support all the elements,” University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman said. “It’s an enormous operation that cannot exist without that money.”
Shabahang added that the tuition increase will affect each student differently; some may see changes in their financial aid packages while others may not.
When news first broke earlier this month that the Board of Trustees were voting on a tuition increase, it came with the explanation that the board believed our mid-range tuition was an “image issue” because the University does not cost enough, making La Verne seem like a cheap school to prospective students.
Lieberman and Shabahang explained the image idea in the context of the “value” of the diploma.
“When you graduate from this University, you want that diploma, that piece of paper, to have as much value as possible when you’re looking for a job or applying to graduate school,” Lieberman said. “What we’re spending money on is directly related to increasing the value for every student.”
According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a data collection program, the University of La Verne is the seventh lowest in tuition costs in comparison to 25 similar universities.
Peer institutions include Chapman University, Azusa Pacific University, Pepperdine University and Loyola Marymount University.
The University’s discount rate is higher than many of these peer universities, bringing the school further down in tuition comparison, Shabahang said.
When high school students and parents are looking at colleges, they equate cost with value or prestige of the university, Shabahang added.
“We have to spend those tuition dollars in a way that will add to the value of the degree those students earn, increase national visibility, increase name recognition, increase faculty scholarship out there,” Shabahang said.
“We are not trying to appear as a more expensive university, but as an institution of more value,” she added.
When the Board of Trustees notified ASULV two days before the vote on the increase, ASULV President Nick Sloot and staff acted quickly to hand out questionnaires in hopes of learning the opinion of the student body.
Sloot said he received approximately 130 questionnaires from the students.
He used the information he received to compile a presentation to the Board of Trustees before the vote.
“What I learned from the questionnaires is that students aren’t necessarily opposed to a tuition increase, but they want to know where their money is going,” Sloot said.
Few students have expressed their discontent with the tuition increase.
However, many students were under the impression that the tuition increase would not affect them.
One prominent rumor was that current students would continue to pay their current tuition rate and the increase would only apply to incoming freshman classes.
Shabahang put these rumors to rest and said that the tuition increase will affect all students next fall.
Lauren Creiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.