by Joshua Worden|Staff Writer
Tuition will increase for the 2018-2019 academic year by 3.5 percent in response to rising operating costs. The decision was made by the board of trustees, advised by an administrative cabinet. Greg Orwig, Whitworth’s vice-president for admissions and financial aid, sat on the cabinet.
“There are lots of different lenses and voices at the table. Mine is probably most directly related to trying to represent the student voice, because they’re the ones that I’m responsible to recruit,” Orwig said.
While the costs of running a university rise every year, the cabinet’s recommendation to the board was focused on making the least possible tuition increase in order to maintain Whitworth’s quality of education, Orwig said.
“We were able to, this year, absorb that enrollment shortfall without any layoffs or limiting departments, and it really did not influence the tuition increase decision for this year,” Orwig said.
Rather than below-expectations enrollment, this tuition increase is largely the result of inflating costs.
The tuition increase has been a source of bafflement for students, many of whom are unclear about the cause.
There is a need for more transparent communication about increases in tuition, sophomore Andrew Brown said.
“I would have liked to have heard more explanation,” said Brown.
Orwig explained the reasons for tuition increase.
“We are a personnel-heavy enterprise,” Orwig said. “Certain fields that depend on a highly-educated labor pool, like dentistry, medicine and education are always going to have above-average inflationary costs.”
Healthcare benefits and technology, in particular, represent significant yearly increases in operating costs, Orwig said.
In an attempt to counteract rising costs, Whitworth will increase its financial aid budget for next year by 12 percent, Orwig said.
Tuition has been gradually increasing in proportion with rising inflation rates.
“At this point, [after] three years here I’m not surprised because [tuition] goes up every single year,” Junior Mikayla Coglas said. “As a student, I don’t really have any control over it, but I just want to be in the know about why this is happening.”
“While we know we probably can’t ever stop incrementally raising tuition, we know that it has real impacts on families, and we want to do everything we can to try to minimize that,” Orwig said.