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October  06, 2008

Augustana makes 2009-2010 tuition commitment early for students navigating an uncertain economy

Rock Island, Ill. - In an unprecedented vote and upon the recommendation of President Steve Bahls the Augustana College Board of Trustees approved tuition rates for the 2009-2010 school year during an October board meeting. The early announcement of Augustana's tuition is intended to help students and parents navigate the college choice process with the critical financial information they need, when they need it.

Augustana's approval of tuition rates at least six months earlier than its higher education peers and announcement of tuition rates nearly a year before the bills will be mailed will help potential Augustana students and parents face and plan for the uncertain economic outlook. In further recognition of the unclear economic stability of the country, The Board of Trustees approved a 3.9 percent tuition increase for current and incoming students, the lowest percentage in 25 years, mirroring the expected increase of the rate of inflation.

 "The decision to talk about our tuition just months into the college search demonstrates our commitment to giving prospective students access to all of the information they need to make an informed decision," says President Steve Bahls. "Students and their parents often confirm their college choice before tuition rates have been established for the coming year. We realize education is a major financial decision, and we want them to make the decision to choose Augustana's liberal arts education based upon our education excellence and transparent decision-making not on economic guesses or assumptions."

"We strive to make sure prospective students know all about us, including the cost, when they enroll. And we do so through voluntary data reporting that we call Open Book. We believe that we are market leaders in our transparency and in our accountability to our students and their families, because we understand the sacrifices the entire family makes to send a student to college," says W. Kent Barnds, Vice President of Enrollment and Communication. "In addition to serving as honest partners, Augustana is focused on a continued commitment to financial aid that enables all students, not just those with strong family finances, to have high quality and unique academic opportunities."

An example of these opportunities includes Augie Choice. Through Augie Choice, Augustana showcases its student's academic, community and leadership commitment through faculty guided research, overseas study, service-learning projects and internships.

Augustana College is also working closely to address lawmaker concerns about the affordability of college. President Bush signed into law the Higher Education Reauthorization Act of 2008 that establishes a watch list for colleges that increase tuition too quickly and simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The college has an ongoing focus, through both short-term and long-term measures, to ease the financial burden of a private, high-quality education. Those successes include: 97 percent of all students receive financial aid, 93 percent graduate in four years, and 97 percent of graduates are employed or begin graduate school within 9 months.

"The timely and decisive leadership that President Bahls has provided during these challenging economic times is invaluable to our current and future students. In addition, Augustana's openness goes beyond the Congressional request for accountability," says chair of the Board of Trustees Doug Hultquist. "The board's vote affirms that Augustana's leadership is committed to ensuring every student and parent has the information they will need to select Augustana as their college of choice."

(See "Sharing Tuition News Early," Inside Higher Ed, Oct. 6, 2008)