Angles: Collateral Costs: Should Augustana have Raised Tuition?

Yes, extra funds will benefit students


Anna Sorenson

I should start this by saying I’m not happy tuition will be increasing by 4.5 percent next year. Like most students, the Board of Trustees’ decision caught me off guard and left me with more questions than answers. But I think the best way to cope with the inevitable is to focus on how the increase will positively affect Augustana and its students.

Although it’s not yet clear where the money from the tuition increase will go, the Augustana website states that the the funds from the increased student fee will be used for student activities, health and wellness, campus life and campus safety. The new technology fee will support technology infrastructure and services, such as WiFi services, the Help Desk and lab systems, according to the Augie website. Augustana is seeking to improve its campus and its student resources. Unfortunately, these changes are only feasible with the proper funds. As the students who will be benefiting from the upgrades, we should look at the added fees as investments in our future success.

The funds will also help Augustana provide students with the beneficial experiences that come with an education from an ELCA liberal arts college. Compared to other ELCA liberal arts schools in the Midwest, Augie still comes in as one of the cheaper options. Augustana’s comprehensive tuition for this year (2019-2020) was $33,430. St. Olaf, a college in Northfield, Minnesota, charged students $60,980 for the 2019-2020 academic year. Next year, with the increase, Augie tuition is estimated to be $34,934. Gustavus Adolphus, located in St. Peter, Minnesota, has a projected tuition of $59,430 for 2020-2021. Our school’s tuition may be increasing, but Augustana will still be the place to get a quality education for a better price.

Even though I am choosing to look at the positive outcomes of this situation, there are students who can’t ignore the financial burden created by the increase. The Augustana administration has reached out to students with a personal message from the dean and planned informational sessions designed to help students make Augustana an affordable school. A tuition increase comes with a lot of questions, and those questions are often loaded with anxiety. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we must trust that the administration will do everything they can to keep students informed and at ease. Practicing patience is hard, especially when it comes to matters of money, but it’s necessary at a time when our college is navigating a pressing financial affair.

With a big decision like raising tuition by 4.5 percent, the administration has a great responsibility to be transparent with students and families about how the increased costs will affect and benefit Augustana. For now, we should try to alleviate our stress by focusing on the benefits that will come from the additional funds and allow those with answers the time to respond to our burning questions.

Anna Sorenson is a Junior English and journalism major from Brandon, South Dakota.


No, the University is taking advantage of students


Ian Ward

“Yes, you heard me, an English major. I paid $120,000… for someone to tell me to go read Jane Austen and then I didn’t. That’s the worst use of 120 grand I can possibly fathom.”

-John Mulaney

I couldn’t help but rewatch “Kid Gorgeous” after Augie casually mentioned in an email that I was going to be paying them $2,150 more per year than they told me I would. I was trying to find the punchline.

This year sets a record for the highest tuition increase since the 2011-2012 academic year. According to Augie’s Cost and Scholarship Information on its official website, the estimated total bill for the 2020-2021 academic year (inclusive of tuition, a double room, a meal plan, etc.) comes in around $47,850. The website is quick to point out that scholarships can cover up to half of that sticker price. Some napkin math reveals that a four-year degree with exactly half of all costs covered by scholarships yields a $95,700 payout. This is assuming that costs never rise, the most generous possible scholarships are applied and every student graduates in exactly four years.

The above can be surmised as a collection of facts and figures that support a simple hypothesis: Augie students have every right to be worried.

The tuition increase was headache enough, but I’ve yet to mention the student fee increases, including the new $260 tech fee “meant to improve the technology infrastructure on campus,” according to the Augie website. There is something to be said of keeping up with the times, but is it too daunting a task to guarantee bat-free dorms before flexing the Wi-Fi connection?

There is something to be said for the economics of the Board of Trustees’ decision. In fairness, keeping up with inflation is a daunting task. Perhaps the price increase would go down a bit easier if it were made for purely economic reasons, or if professors were being paid significantly more. In reality, coupling this decision with Augie’s ongoing predatory financial practices makes it seem as though Augustana is purposely antagonizing itself.

To walk in the campus bookstore is like auditing a masterclass on price gouging (an experience not unique to our humble university, to be sure). Say what you will about buying textbooks from your college, but one thing’s for certain: you can’t deny their creativity. I recall passing a class that required a $100 textbook I never once opened. However, don’t let it be said that one can’t find cheap delights in the bookstore. However, one particular book about economics and fiscal responsibility may cost $280 to buy, but imagining the sharp irony of that decision is free for all to enjoy.

I love my school. Watching these events unfold is like watching a trusted friend enter a downward spiral. At the end of the day, the evidence is undeniable that obtaining a college education is of the utmost importance in our day and age. How remarkably convenient it is, then, that the Board of Trustees is putting this information in its pockets and is laughing all the way to the bank.

Ian Ward is a freshman philosophy major. 

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