May 20, 2019

Webster annual student cost exceed competition

Chances are you spend more money for your college education at Webster compared to nearby competing universities.

Webster University first-time, full-time undergraduates pay a higher average price per year of attendance than competitors Maryville, Fontbonne and McKendree Universities.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Webster’s average annual cost hit $29,710 as of October 2018. The national average for private, nonprofit four-year universities for 2017-2018 was $26,740.

The average annual cost represents money owed after federal, state and school aid is applied. It includes tuition and fees, books, supplies and living expenses for first-time, full-time undergraduates who receive Title IV aid.

Webster’s list price tuition, the amount before any aid is applied, for the 2019-2020 school year is $28,500. If the university follows tuition patterns from 2013, list price tuition will pass $30,000 by the 2021-2022 school year.

Current freshmen would see a total tuition spike of $2,400 by their senior year if the pattern continues.

Film major Georgia Grosch came to Webster after attending St. Louis Community College-Meramec. Grosch said she did not think about going to Maryville, Fontbonne or McKendree over Webster.

“Yes it’s more expensive,” Grosch said, “but I still think I would come [to Webster].”

Grosch said she felt the values of Webster lie in the professors that have taught her.

David Feldman, co-author of “Why Does College Cost So Much?,” said the list price for many universities does not accurately reflect what students pay for their education. The average price a student actually pays has not changed much over the past 30 years, according to Feldman.

“For most students, that list price is irrelevant,” Feldman said. “Focusing on the list price misses all the real action.”

The price that matters, Feldman said, is the average annual cost to students.

Maryville University’s average annual cost is $25,596. Fontbonne and McKendree Universities’ average annual costs are $25,125 and $19,029 respectively.

Courtney Haller, manager of marketing and public relations at Maryville, said Maryville’s 11 straight years of an operating surplus helped the university freeze its list price tuition from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019.

Haller attributed Maryville’s ability to freeze tuition to responsible fiscal management and enrollment growth. Maryville had an operating surplus of nearly $12 million in 2018 while Webster had an operating deficit of $18.7 million.

Maryville and Webster’s enrollment have seen opposite trends in recent years. From fall 2009 to fall 2017, Maryville’s full-time undergraduate enrollment increased by 706 students according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Webster’s full-time undergraduate enrollment decreased by 432 students in the same time period.

Webster’s list price tuition increased at a slower rate than Fontbonne and McKendree from 2014-2017 despite Webster’s net price to students being greater in 2018. The list price at Webster increased by 9.8 percent while Fontbonne and McKendree increased by 12 and 10.3 percent respectively.

Webster’s Director of Public Relations Patrick Giblin said around 95 percent of Webster undergraduates receive financial aid. Webster students receive an average of more than $7,000 per year in aid.

Webster increased overall aid to students by $2.2 million in the past year according to Giblin.

Webster faired closer in average annual student cost to Saint Louis University’s, which was $29,157. Washington University’s number topped Webster at $29,957.

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