By Autumn Young
For the second time in its history, Bluffton University is implementing a Tuition Equalization Program, meaning that next year’s qualifying incoming students will be guaranteed tuition and fees at or below $11,000. With the program the university hopes to grow its student body and decrease tuition for current and incoming students alike.
Bluffton first implemented a Tuition Equalization Program about fifteen years ago according to Ron Headings, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at Bluffton. The program was cut, however, as the university began to lose money.
“We’re implementing the program again because over the last ten years we’ve slowly been adding to the scholarships and grants that are available to Bluffton students,” said Headings.
The university decided that with more financial aid they needed a better way to tell students about what was being offered.
“We took our average tuition with scholarships and grants and compared it to state schools, and realized that most of our students were already paying the same or less than the tuition and fees at those schools,” said Headings. “We’re a private education at a public university cost.”
Headings also pointed out that Bluffton’s fees consist only of the 400 dollar technology charge, while some state schools can have fees of thousands of dollars on top of tuition.
“We are trying to make college more affordable for more students. And the key idea of this is to say to students, look you don’t need to take Bluffton off your list because you think it costs too much. Leave Bluffton on your list—don’t automatically say it’s a private college, I can’t go there, I can’t afford it. We want as many students as possible to know that they can, in fact, afford Bluffton,” said Headings.
To qualify for the program, incoming students need to live on campus, at least a 22 on the ACT and a 3.0 high school grade point average. Transfer students must meet the same academic criteria in order to qualify.
While some of the student body has expressed concern over the new program and the effect it might have on their tuition, others are supportive.
“If it can bring more students for Bluffton, if it can help just a few more people get to college, then I think that’s great,” said Daniel Piero, a junior at Bluffton.
Headings hoped to better inform students about the program—including the benefits for current students.
“Basically this program is all about bringing more students to Bluffton—remarketing what Bluffton already has—and with more students, there is less pressure on increasing tuition for everyone,” said Headings.