While part-time students will see a decrease in tuition, many full-time students will see an increase for the upcoming academic year.
On Feb. 7, Webster University published a news article highlighting new tuition rates that “will make education more affordable for many.”
“Webster’s tuition policy has always been guided by the principle of affordability and is rooted in granting access to education to those who would not have it otherwise,” Webster University President Julian Schuster said. “Webster will continue to provide the best educational experiences to our students and assist them in achieving their educational goals, despite sharp cost increases across the higher education sector.”
Moving into the next academic year, part-time students at Webster will experience a 38% decrease in tuition rates. Many full-time students, however, will encounter a 4% increase. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 79% of undergraduates at Webster were full-time students and 21% were part-time as of fall 2020.
Part-time students – who take 11 or fewer credit hours – will have tuition rates drop to $450 starting in the 2022 – 2023 academic year. In spring 2022, the cost per credit hour for part-time students was $725.
Nursing students, Webster Groves RN to BSN students, military students, ESL graduate students and dual-credit students won’t see a change in their tuition. Full-time students, however, will see a 4% increase in their tuition, which will go from $28,500 to $29,640. This marks the end of the university’s two-year tuition freeze.
The tuition changes have been met with varying reactions.
John Doe, a part-time student here at the Webster Groves campus, who would like to remain anonymous, started his journey in 2016 to pursue an education in the university’s music program. After having to balance a full-time job and schoolwork, he couldn’t balance the workload and ultimately decided to put his education on hold. Five years later, he decided to give it another go.
“I remember praying to God about the prices at a private school,” Doe said. “It would be so much cheaper to just go to a public school, but I felt the education just wasn’t strong enough [compared to] Webster, I am so grateful for the tuition reduction, it’s a prayer well answered.”
Although part-time students are experiencing a decrease in tuition, full-time students aren’t as fortunate.
“Between loss of commuter points, parking tickets, confusion with [Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund] funding and now the tuition raise, I think a lot of students are angry that they are spending more money for what seems like less and less benefits each year,” Maria Walls, Webster Scientific Socialist Alliance (WSSA) club member and Webster University Student Union (WUSU) organizer, said.
The Webster University Student Union, formerly known as Dear Webster, is an ongoing student effort that seeks to hold Webster University accountable for its alleged misuse of funds and advocate for student benefits, according to Walls. The group organized the campus student protest and sit-in in the University Center.
The tuition changes are also coming off the heels of the university being sued by Caroline McClanahan on Nov. 11, 2021. McClanahan filed a lawsuit against Webster University after she was denied a refund on her tuition for the 2020 academic year.
According to St. Louis Business Journal, McClanahan in the lawsuit states that she “does not challenge” the university’s efforts to switch to online instruction during the pandemic, but she argues that she “did not choose to attend an institution that only offered an online education; instead, [the university] chose and [she] paid for the in-person services.”
Universities across the nation facing a 3.65-4.25% increase in tuition, such as Stanford University, Yale University, Duke University and Loyola University Chicago, have all considered the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on economic inflation when adjusting tuition costs.
“One thing I think is important to keep in mind is that Webster is a much bigger system than just Webster Groves,” John Buck, the dean of students at Webster University, said.
Webster University encompasses over 50 campuses and sites across the United States and nine campuses abroad. Every year, the university goes through the process of setting the budgets and rates for the coming academic year. This year, in response to the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic left on higher education, ending the two-year tuition freeze is what “needed to happen,” according to Buck.
Buck gave comments to WUSU in support of student protest, but since then the organization says it hasn’t had its grievances met with solutions.
“I’m sure the WUSU will be addressing this [tuition news] soon,” Walls said.