On Sept. 29, President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin announced to the student body that there will be a tuition freeze for the 2021-2022 academic year. For the first time in more than 15 years, the Augustana Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of a zero percent tuition increase for current and incoming Vikings.
The freeze was announced in the freshly updated Viking Flex Plan. Tuition will stay at $34,934 in response to financial uncertainties students are facing in the midst of COVID-19.
“It is part of our commitment to our current students and our future students to make sure that Augustana remains an affordable choice,” said Madeleine Titze, director of undergraduate enrollment.
The tuition freeze will not impact current students’ scholarships. However, next year’s incoming freshmen must navigate the new season of scholarship qualifications and opportunities. Because of the pandemic, the university is no longer able to host any of its six annual scholarship events that give potential Vikings the chance to attach more money to their scholarships. In response, Augustana has adjusted the baseline academic scholarships to accommodate the lost opportunities.
The class of 2025 will also have different qualifications for their scholarships than their predecessors. When high school students were shoveled into the online world, juniors missed opportunities to take standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT. New students will be evaluated for their scholarships based on either standardized test score or high school GPA instead of both.
In addition to increasing standard scholarships, Augustana will match the amount of the South Dakota Opportunity scholarship for in-state students. By giving students another way to increase their financial aid package, Titze said the university hopes it shows their commitment to keeping the institution affordable.
The tuition freeze applies to all students including full-time online scholars. Students who are learning remotely will continue to pay the same tuition that they would have if they attended class in person, minus room and board fees.
“I think it’s a good effort, but I think more needs to be done for students who are fully online,” said sophomore Sydney Denekamp.
Titze said the tuition freeze shows that the university is listening to students’ struggles during such unstable times.
“The university knows that this is a really unique time for students and families both financially and personally,” said Titze. “We are grateful for the students that are choosing AU, and we are grateful for continuing to invest in them.”