Webster University's new Military Tuition Assistance Program will grant up to $250 per credit hour…
Tuition costs rise across nation
Working on campus
The Federal Work Study Program (FWS) provides funding to pay full-time college students who meet financial eligibility requirements for part-time employment at their respective universities.
Last September, The Journal reported that Webster over-awarded work-study jobs, which resulted in fewer positions for students this year. Liz Condon-Oakberg, student employment coordinator at Webster, said the same number of jobs were filled in the 2011-2012 school year as in 2010-2011.
She went on to say most students who did not file the appropriate paperwork for FWS by the March 30th, 2011, deadline appealed for funding and were able to receive an award for the 2011-2012 school year. The appeal amount was $1750, compared to the $2300 a non-appeal student received.
Webster sophomore jazz studies major Juan Carlos Acosta is a student from Ecuador who takes part in the work-study program. Acosta works at the Thompson Music Building during the school year. As the semester comes to an end, Acosta said he is looking for a summer job, but is having a difficult time finding one on campus.
International students are restricted to work on campus because of their student visa, which makes students like Acosta depend on work-study. If Acosta gets a job working on campus, he will be awarded work-study money during the summer.
“Pretty much all I can get is a job through the school,” Acosta said. “We are limited to what the university can give us.”
Because Acosta doesn’t have many options, he said he wants to stay at Webster for the summer so he can continue taking music lessons. He said it’s too expensive to go home to Ecuador.
Work study and paying the bills
Senior audio production major Derrick Snow works in the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA) to earn his work study. Snow said his job helps pay the bills while he is in college.
“Being a full-time student and a commuter, in addition to having to pay for rent, electric, and insurance… Work study helps ease some of the stress caused by expenses,” Snow said. “The school caps your hours to 20 per week, which in many cases, isn’t helpful to students in my situation of having to deal with bills and school fees.”
Junior Nicole King works as a student building manager for the UC, and as an Academic Affairs desk attendant. She also stressed the importance of her work study.
“My everyday paychecks go towards my groceries, gas and any kind of monthly payments for my apartment,” King said.
While there is a cap on how much you can make while on FWS, many students at Webster choose it over traditional jobs for different reasons.
“I do think it would take me away from the Webster campus because I would be spending more time at a different job. It might make my life a little bit more stressful and it would prevent me from being so involved because I wouldn’t be at Webster that much,” King said.
Ted Hoef, dean of students at Webster explained why he thought FWS was important to some students while in school.
“The type of part-time job a student holds is a big factor as well. Students who have on-campus jobs are more likely to be successful,” Hoef said. “They are given the opportunity to develop a meaningful connection to the school. They are also given a supervisor who shares their goals and can provide guidance. Off-campus jobs, on the other hand, may compete with academics, are less flexible and may pull the student from being on campus and, therefore, connecting to the university.”
Contributed by Jeff Mosblech and Natalie Martinez
Webster’s set tuition
Tuition is on the rise across the country as many schools find their financial support has decreased. State and federal governments provide funding for both public and private institutions. This money helps pay for school renovations, salaries and other expenses.
But recently, both federal and state funding to schools was cut. To make up for these cuts, many schools have raised tuition. According to the College Board, public universities have increased their tuition 130 percent in 20 years, which can make public higher education nearly as expensive as private colleges and universities.
“There are inflationary costs — new buildings, science lab, expansion, etc.,” Webster’s Chief Financial Officer Greg Gunderson said. “The minimum (operating) cost for Webster is about $3.1 to $4.2 million. Mizzou probably used to get 60 percent from the state. Today it probably gets 30 percent from the state.”
Public universities used to be rather inexpensive before the recession. But currently, out-of-state students at Missouri University in Columbia (Mizzou) pay more than Webster students. Mizzou currently costs $27,000 each semester for out-of-state tuition. The tuition at Webster is $21,688. Mizzou relies on the state government to help with expenses, while Webster relies on student tuition and housing to help.
What About Webster?
Webster is a tuition-driven school. Ninety-seven percent of Webster’s operating expenses come from student tuition and housing. But salaries for staff are increasing to help with living expenses and the university will leave half a percent of these increases to cover strategic initiatives. This half percent will come from a tuition increase over the next three years.
A majority of universities use reactive pricing,which raises tuition rates based upon the previous year’s student base. Webster is moving away from this kind of fiscal policy to predictive pricing. Predictive pricing sets the percentage for the next several years. This pricing will be set on the number of students the school expects and the amount of spending predicted.
Webster has set their rates at a three percent raise for 2012, five percent for 2013 and three percent in 2014. The average rise for the next three years will be around 3.6 percent, which Gunderson says is less than the rate of inflation.
Because college costs so much, scholarships are helpful for everyone. Unfortunately, funding for these has been cut. Webster has been sharing aid between students to make up for the lack of funds.
“We promise you (students) a certain amount of financial aid.” Gunderson said. “But as the year goes on, we find scholarships for you. Then we target that against your financial aid. We apply that amount to help other students.”
Many students are working through college to help them pay off their debt. Students take on part-time or work-study jobs to help pay for school. Students all across the nation are attempting to get part-time jobs. Students at Webster try to get work-study jobs or budget positions. Even with a job, some students wonder if their income will be enough to pay tuition.
Webster student Francis Ladege has worked at Freshens in the University Center for three years. This year, Ladege is taking 16 credit hours and works seven-hour shifts four days a week. Ladege said he must prioritize and do his work on time.
“I have no loans, and I’m paying for school out of pocket,” Ladege said.
As students struggle to pay for school with the rising tuition rates, there is one thing to note — students as a whole are leaving college with more debt than the nation’s credit card debt. It is almost necessary to have a job due to the annual increase of tuition. Students pay more money out-of-pocket to make up for the lack of federal aid. Students can expect to need a job when coming to Webster. But predictive pricing will help students know what to save up to pay their tuition.
Contributed by Joseph Bodenback and Meghan Steineker
Scholarships and Discounts
Sean Hart had to pick — would he go to Mizzou, Southeast Missouri State or Webster University? Then Webster awarded him a $9,000 academic scholarship. Hart, now a junior at Webster, was offered more financial aid here than any other institution.
He received his scholarship based on his ACT score, GPA and class rank. However, students enrolling at Webster next year who have the same scores and merit as Hart may receive less scholarship money.
Vice President of Enrollment Paul Carney is concerned Webster may lose prospective students due to decreased financial aid.
Universities across the United States give institutional grants and scholarships to attract top students, and help disadvantaged students. The university doesn’t hand students the money. Instead, it charges them less than full price — like a discount.
“Generally, over each of the past five years, the discount rate has been higher for freshmen than it was for the previous freshman class,” Carney said.
Carney said the undergraduate discount rate at Webster has gone from 37 percent to 42 percent over the past five years. That means 42 percent of students receive some financial aid from Webster. Comparatively, the national undergraduate discount rate has gone up from 35.1 percent to 37.2 percent in the past five years. But next year that discount rate will go down. A decrease in the amount of state and federal money given to Webster has forced that decrease.
Even with the stabilization of national undergraduate discount rates, the average tuition rate for full-time freshmen entering college has grown. The average tuition-discount rate has climbed from 39.1 percent in 2007 to 41.8 percent in 2008 nationally, according to a survey in the National Association of College.
Private universities like Webster are at a disadvantage when it comes to providing financial aid for students because they don’t get subsidies from the state like public institutions do. This is a drawback for institutions like Webster because they have to find other ways to balance their budget. However, that hasn’t stopped students from choosing Webster over state institutions.
“I looked at Mizzou (University of Missouri, Columbia) and SEMO (Southeast Missouri State University), but Webster gave me the most (money) so I was like. ‘Oh ok I’ll go here,’” Hart said.
According to the Missouri Department of Higher Education Webster actually gives more scholarship and grant money than many other state schools. For example, Mizzou gives approximately $92,924,291 in monetary assistance to students. Southeast Missouri State University gives even less, totaling $16,782,062 in grants and scholarships.
“The reason I chose Webster was because of the scholarship — I got the most to go here,” junior speech and communications major Megan Burns said.
Carney feels it is a conscious goal for Webster to get the best and brightest students to come to their school. However, recent news of the Fall 2013 drop in discount rate money has caused faculty, staff and administrators to be highly concerned about recruitment.
“If we decrease the discount, we’re going to lose 25 extra students,” Carney said. “We need new academic program initiatives so we can get more students because they are interested in new programs.”
Carney also feels adding athletic programs will help with recruiting despite the lowering discount rate. For example, if Webster added a lacrosse team, Carney said they would be able to add about 20 extra students they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.
While the discount rate remains a big issue for Webster and other universities across the country, Carney said he remains optimistic that the university will get through it.
“We’re trying to do the best we can for all of the students,” Carney said. “The students are our kids. You all are a member of the family and we will all do this together.”
Contributed by Ava Roesslein and Sam Masterson