From the Worldwide Faith News archives

College education more affordable than most think

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Fri, 2 Apr 2004 14:15:25 -0600

April 2, 2004	News media contact: Linda Green 7 (615)742-5470 7 Nashville,
Tenn. 7 E-mail: 7 ALL-YE {153}

NOTE: A photograph is available at

By Pamela Crosby*
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)-Affordable tuition is an important challenge for
United Methodist colleges and universities today, according to a university
James Davis, president of Shenandoah University, Winchester, Va., said "one
of the greatest challenges facing United Methodist institutions of higher
education is related to keeping our programs affordable for students and
staying true to our mission which has always included excellence in
scholarship and service to the church."
As the cost of higher education rises rapidly at public and some private
institutions, United Methodist colleges and universities work to keep their
tuition increases at less than 5 percent.
Tuition and fees at a public four-year institution this academic year cost an
average of $4,694, a 14.1 percent increase over 2002-03. The average tuition
and fees at a private, four-year college or university are $19,710, a 6
percent increase over last year.   Factoring in room and board, books and
supplies greatly increases the cost, according to the College Board, the
nonprofit organization that administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test.  

"It's getting outrageous," said Chelsea Curtley, a second-year student at the
University of Houston. "I had to drop some classes because I couldn't afford

A sluggish economy and state budget deficits mean many students at public and
private schools pay record-breaking tuition increases to help institutions
compensate for cuts in state funding. Contributing to college and university
budgets are declining endowments, a downturn in fund-raising revenues,
increasingly scarce state and federal support for student aid, and
skyrocketing costs for health care, updated library resources, and
Tuition and fees at United Methodist-related institutions are part of the
College Board averages, but higher education officials observe that the
college cost is rising faster at institutions other than United
Methodist-related schools.
Private college and university presidents are working hard to minimize the
impact of tuition increases while maintaining the quality of education and
training they provide, according to Davis. 
"The natural forces in our society push our institutions from being access
points for educational opportunity for the underserved to being selective
enrollment centers that serve the affluent and brightest," he explained. 

"It is a challenge to keep open pathways for the first-generation college
students, children from minority and disadvantaged backgrounds, and even
adults who have been deprived the chance to attend college out of high
school," Davis added.

Ken Yamada, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Higher Education
and Ministry, said a private education is more affordable than most families

Thanks to a variety of federal and state grants, scholarships, matching
programs with churches, loan programs, and work-study opportunities, students
pay less than the published tuition at private colleges and universities.
United Methodist-related institutions pride themselves on the efforts to help
students meet their educational dreams, he said. 

Although rapid double-digit tuition increases at publicly-supported state
institutions prompted a U.S. Congress investigation, tuition costs at United
Methodist colleges and universities have maintained an average of 20 percent
below the national average, said Yamada.

The published price list at United Methodist schools is relatively high, but
the actual cost to students is not significantly higher, according to Ted
Brown, president of Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn. "In fact,
after several rounds of major tuition/fee increases at public institutions
over the last few years, our actual cost to students is very competitive," he

Katherine Vaught, a second-year, political science major at Shenandoah
University, said she expected her college costs to be high no matter where
she went. "With my grants, scholarships, and work study, it didn't cost much
more than going to a public school," she said.

Vaught receives government grants and loans, a grant through the United
Methodist Church, and a $4,000 academic scholarship. 

According to the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, United
Methodist-related institutions offer generous scholarship programs.
Approximately $265 million in scholarship funding was provided for 46,113
United Methodist students in 1999.

Adam Burgett, a junior at Martin Methodist College, said he was not eligible
to take advantage of government grants, but help from United Methodist
programs eased his financial load considerably. 

Pursing a major in church vocations with an emphasis on pre-seminary, Burgett
received help through the board's Gift of Hope: 21st Century Scholars Program
and the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation's "Double Your Dollars
for Scholars" program, which matches gifts from local congregations, and a
work study program. 

United Methodist local churches are partnering with institutions on
scholarship assistance and support. "My church gave me a small scholarship
when I graduated from high school. Then, I approached them with the Double
Your Dollars for Scholars program, and they contributed again," said Burgett.

He said he also benefits from the Center for Church Leadership, a program
that identifies, recruits, and trains individuals for effective leadership
within the United Methodist Church. 

"We are finding that churches are willing to do this because they see the way
we are providing a service back to them through the Center for Church
Leadership," Brown said. "I don't think there is any question that the way to
keep the cost of church-related education down is to offer programs that make
a difference for the churches, that provide skilled and dedicated leadership
back to the congregations."


United Methodist News Service
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