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Tuition freeze holds for another year

Photo by: Nick Conley


Applause erupted and students were glad they woke up to come to chapel when Oklahoma Christian University President John deSteiguer announced that the school would keep tuition prices the same for yet another year.

“I was excited,” sophomore engineering major Drew Bellcock said. “That really helps my family out, not having to pay as much for tuition, especially having another kid coming to college next year. I think that was a difficult task, and I am really impressed they were able to accomplish that.”

Oklahoma Christian tuition will continue at $18,800 per year. After adding in room and board, the average cost of attending school will be $24,975.

The freeze on tuition has made Oklahoma Christian unique. It was one of the only colleges to freeze tuition last year, and no other university in the state of Oklahoma kept the same prices this year as last year.

Last year, the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) sent out a survey asking the universities if they planned to increase tuition. From the 88 responses, 87 were affirmative – Oklahoma Christian was the only university that answered “no.”

Private universities raised their prices an average of four percent for the 2012-2013 school year.

The decision to let costs remain the same for another year was almost unheard of in the collegiate world.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” deSteiguer said. “It’s a decision we all wanted to make. But we had to count the cost and think about what other ramifications there might be from this. But after lots of prayer, and lots of discussion, and lots of agreement and disagreement and going back and forth, we feel very good about this decision.”

However, common sense cannot be overlooked. Costs of managing the school continue to increase, such as professors’ salaries, insurance premiums and health insurance.

A question concerning some is: what will the university sacrifice to ensure students pay the same price for two years in a row while still allowing for the university to function?

According to Risa Forrester, vice president for admissions and marketing, hopefully not much will change.

“The sacrifices that we are making and discussing are ones that we think are going to have a minimal impact on the students,” Forrester said. “There’s a real commitment to student family affordability and to continue to offer the very best education and experience that we can to students. I think you’ll find that the sacrifices are going to be more on the staff and faculty than on the students.”

The university is constantly searching for ways to save money in order to keep tuition low for students. In order to cut expenses in the future, Oklahoma Christian is looking into cutting the computer program that provides each student with a brand-new MacBook. Oklahoma Christian was one of the first universities to institute the technology policy and is one of the last universities to continue doing so. The university will not implement such changes this year, however, since promises have been made to incoming students.

“I don’t think that would be a good move for the college,” Bellock said. “I don’t think I would be willing to sacrifice that for a tuition cut.”

The administration hopes that the tuition freeze will benefit the university, as well as the students.

Deciding on Oklahoma Christian’s price tag is a year-by-year analysis, with no exact formula to follow. However, the principle of supply and demand shows if the price increases, customers may be lost.

“I thought President deSteiguer was going to say costs were going up,” sophomore business major Denali Hicks said. “I was thinking, ‘Well, I won’t be coming back next year,’ so I’m very happy they kept the prices the same.”

The administration hopes by maintaining current costs, their customers – or students – will escalate and consequently will boost Oklahoma Christian’s revenue.

“Our experience this year was, by keeping the prices flat, we entered into a year of record enrollment,” deSteiguer said. “Was that influenced by having flat prices? Probably. We believe that by holding prices flat again, we have a lot of prospective students that have been admitted into Oklahoma Christian.”

As a reminder to students, the tuition freeze will not last forever.

“It will not be able to stay the same forever – that’s obvious,” deSteiguer said. “I need to be pretty clear that this is not a science. This is an art.”

However, if the institution can continuously increase enrollment, there is a chance tuition prices will remain low.

“We know that affordability is important,” deSteiguer said. “It’s important to our students. It’s important to their families. It’s important out in the world. Because it’s important to our students and families, it’s very important to us.”

For right now at least, students will not have to make any sacrifices and Oklahoma Christian will be able to increase their revenue in order to continue providing quality education to their students.

“That commitment means that we as an administration have to make some very tough choices,” Forrester said. “But we believe that the choices we make are going to be in the very best interest of the students.”


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