Paying it forward: Columbia announces tuition increase

By Andrea Salcedo, Campus Editor

Alexander Aghayere
According to a Nov. 15 collegewide email by President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim, full-time tuition will increase by $990, totaling $25,580 per academic year.

Following a 4 percent tuition increase for the 2016–2017 academic year, Columbia students will face another 4 percent tuition increase for the 2017–2018 academic year, according to a Nov. 15 collegewide email from President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim.

According to the email, full-time tuition will increase by $990, totaling $25,580 per academic year.

During the Spring 2016 Semester, the college announced the 4 percent increase of $950 for the following academic year, as reported Feb. 15 by The Chronicle.

Additionally, students taking six or more credits will have to pay a $150 technology fee starting in the Spring 2017 Semester. The fee will be used to update and improve student technology through wired and wireless networking, classroom technology, digital learning, computer labs, work stations, specialized software and other equipment, tools and employees, the email stated.

“The trustees and I, along with the rest of the college’s senior administrative leadership, remain committed to using student tuition dollars wisely and responsibly to improve the quality and fully realize the value of a Columbia education.” Kim said in the email.

Kim declined an interview with The Chronicle regarding the tuition increase.

The college has yet to announce a new U-Pass charge to be set by the Chicago Transit Authority, the email added.

Columbia’s tuition has increased annually since the 2009-2010 academic year, when it was $18,490, according to archived Chronicle data.

As  reported Oct. 3 by The Chronicle, Columbia is currently at a 20-year enrollment low with 8,120 students, down from the 8,961 enrolled in the Fall 2015 Semester.

In the email, Kim said the college plans to start a series of changes to programs, policies and infrastructure aimed to support  graduation and facilitating the student learning experience. Future plans mentioned in the email include the launch of an industry-learning Management System in the Information Technology Department, the $9 million Getz Theatre renovations and the continuation of the curriculum review process.

Robert Green, vice provost of Digital Learning, said the $150 technology fee is far less than what other institutions charge.

“We tried to put something together that we felt was modest but will also go toward some of these new initiatives,” Green said.

Jonathan Burden, a freshman audio arts & acoustics major who comes from a single-parent household on the South Side, said he can barely afford Columbia at the moment, and he is unsure how he will pay for college next year.

”If it increases 4 percent, I might have to either work a lot or find two jobs,” Burden said.

Burden said he is worried that if tuition continues to raise, diversity will be reduced at the college because low-income families will struggle to pay for the increases.

An interview with Bill Wolf, chairman of the board of trustees, was declined by the News Office, but he said in a Nov. 17 emailed statement from the News Office on his behalf that the board thoughtfully considers yearly changes to tuition, which—as a college that mainly operates on tuition dollars—had to be raised this year to cover new and continuing projects.

“We attempt to balance the pressures all families feel from the cost of higher education with the need to invest in Columbia’s greatest asset: its students,” Wolf said in the statement. “Students will have more tools, experience and support to reach their goals, and the college will have the opportunity to reinforce its unique presence in higher education.”

Maya Durfee O’Brien, a sophomore creative writing major, said she does not understand the need for another tuition increase.

Durfee O’Brien would like to see more  financial transparency from the college.

“I would like to know where my money is going exactly and not feel like I’m just an OASIS number paying to go to school here,” Durfee O’Brien said. “I want to feel like I’m valued.”