Ashland University has made a bold move in addressing the issues of accessibility and affordability facing higher education. The University has reset its cost structure for full-time undergraduate tuition and financial aid resulting in a cost cut of more than $10,000 for the 2014-15 academic year.
The tuition reset, which will apply to all full-time undergraduate students enrolled in 2014-15, represents a 37 percent decrease from the projected 2014-15 tuition of $30,064, bringing it to $18,908.
“Over the past decade everyone in higher education has danced around the subject of the rising cost of college. Yet few have been willing to tackle the issue and the complications involved,” said AU President Dr. Fred Finks. “Ashland University knows the importance of positioning ourselves to meet the rising demand for quality education at an affordable price. We have decided now is the time to act.”
Finks called the decision a “bold step,” but noted that “our research is showing us that many prospective students and their parents are deterred by ‘sticker shock’ and not looking at the actual cost to attend Ashland University once financial aid is applied.”
Finks said that nothing will be cut or eliminated from the total Ashland educational experience to accommodate the tuition reset. He said the executive committee of the university’s board of trustees approved the decrease in June following two years of research and discussion.
“The University completed budget realignment in the spring, which has allowed the institution to undertake an initiative like this,” he said. “As we reviewed the alternative, we were uncomfortable with continuing to raise tuition costs and create more student debt year after year.
“Our undergraduate enrollment has been stable over the past few years and we’ve seen an increase this year in first year students compared to 2011 and 2012, so this is really about becoming more transparent on our pricing structure," Finks said. “We believe this is the best way for us to help both the ‘high-need’ and the ‘low-need’ students.”
Scott Van Loo, vice president of enrollment management and marketing at AU, said the new full-time tuition price of $18,908 means that prospective students now have the option of getting a top-notch private education at a more affordable cost.
And once students receive their financial aid and see their net costs, Van Loo believes that AU will be among the most affordable four-year private institutions in the Midwest.
“This move means Ashland will reduce, but not eliminate, the dollar amounts for grants and scholarships,” he said. “We are seeking to move from a high-tuition/high-discount model to a lower-tuition/lower-discount model, which will actually reduce the net costs for returning students when compared to the typical annual 4 percent increase that they experience under the current pricing and financial aid structure.”
Van Loo said that through the use of predictive statistical modeling, AU administrators project that the tuition reset and financial aid changes will help to recruit more full-time undergraduates to the Ashland campus.
“Ashland’s new price will better reflect what students actually pay and we believe it will lead to more prospective students considering our university,” Van Loo said.
Ashland’s room and board costs of $9,502 will remain, and will bring the University’s total charges for tuition, fees, room and board for 2014-15 to $29,354.
Ashland University Provost Dr. Frank Pettigrew noted that the tuition reset is just the latest in a number of AU developments in response to student and family financial concerns about higher education costs. He noted that in just the past two years, Ashland University has: reduced the minimal number of credit hours needed to complete an undergraduate bachelor’s degree from 128 to 120.
“We have gained a significant advantage in our academic profile by consistently hiring outstanding faculty and recruiting great students,” Pettigrew said. “This tuition reset will only improve our ability to recruit academically talented students and strengthen our position as one of America’s leading universities.”
Those wanting more information about Ashland University or the tuition reset can contact the admission office at 419.289.4142 or 800.882.1548.
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.