Augustana College announced to students and families today that it will increase its comprehensive fee (tuition, housing, fees and a full meal plan) by $1,333 for the 2021-22 academic year.
Kirk Anderson, chief financial officer and vice president of administration, said the increase is needed to continue providing the high-quality education families expect to receive at Augustana. It is the smallest increase at Augustana in the last 11 years.
Anderson said the college has not passed on additional expenses due to COVID-19 this year, and has absorbed most of the costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. When campus closed in March, students received housing and meal refunds totaling $4 million.
Augustana will invest more than $1.5 million or more in COVID-19 mitigation this year, including surveillance tests, technology upgrades, off-site quarantine housing, and new safety features such as hand sanitizer, plexiglass dividers and shields.
Anderson said that because revenues are down due to COVID-19, the college has reduced its payroll through furloughs, salary freezes, a hiring freeze and reduced retirement benefits. Officials anticipate a reduction of $2.5 million in compensation and benefit expenses during 2020-21.
He said officials plan to use much of the comprehensive fee increase for the next year for modest pay increases and partial restoration of benefits in order to retain an experienced and excellent faculty and staff.
Gifts from alumni and friends and earnings from Augustana's endowment help keep increases down. Nearly 4,000 alumni donate annually to the college. In the 2019-2020 cycle, donations totaled $12.3 million.
The college is completing a $125 million campaign to continue to provide scholarships to students, as well as to support faculty salaries and the other high-impact programs.
"Many times in the last months you’ve heard, "We’re in this together." I couldn’t agree more," Anderson said.
"As an Augustana grad, I realize the investment you are making by attending Augustana College. I hope that this gives you reassurance that Augustana is using your tuition dollars as wisely as possible. We are grateful you are part of this community."