Tuition change and scholarship expansion

10/05/2017

As we have moved into October, I want to update you on several things related to recruitment and retention. I talk about these matters in town hall meetings, but want to ensure that the information is disseminated widely.

As you know, our long-term financial stability and growth depends upon our ability to maximize student recruitment and increase retention. Central to those efforts are maintaining outstanding academic programs, creating positive campus experiences, providing regular personalized interactions, and promptly responding to calls for help.

To the extent possible, we also want to find creative ways to attract and retain students. In fact, the focus of this message is to update you on our newest approaches concerning out-of-state tuition and the Akron Guarantee Scholarship Program.

I. Reduction of Out-of-State Tuition

We have significantly increased our recruiting activities in adjacent states and beyond. As part of that initiative we also reviewed our existing tuition rate structure and surcharge for out-of-state undergraduate students. In August the University’s Board of Trustees authorized the chief financial officer to "analyze, evaluate and implement a non-Ohio resident student rate structure that is in the best interest of the University."

Given the very competitive nature of the higher education market in this part of the country, we believe we can enhance our institution’s appeal by reducing non-resident tuition for out-of-state students to $15,500 from approximately $19,500. We plan on implementing a $500 processing fee for international students as well.

This price reduction will also involve modifying the scholarships available to non-residents. With this modification, we anticipate realizing more revenue. Attracting more students based on our more competitive pricing structure should help us do the same.

II. Expansion of Akron Guarantee Scholarship (AGS) Program

On September 30th the Akron Beacon Journal ran a feature story about our Akron Guarantee Scholarship (AGS) program. As you will recall, we rolled out this new program in February and offered students a choice to shift to our new AGS program. Of the approximately 80% of scholarship recipients who responded to our offer, over 90% of eligible prospective students who were offered a choice between the AGS and the traditional scholarship chose the AGS model. The promise of guaranteed yearly renewal, combined with financial incentives for timely progress toward degree completion (automatic upgrades at the 30, 60, and 90 credit levels), are proving popular with students and their families. We have received very positive responses from high school counselors, principals, superintendents, and governmental officials. Accordingly, our admissions scholarships for Fall 2018 are focused on the AGS model.

Inspired by this strong positive response, we will expand the AGS program to populations beyond our traditional student pool. We now will offer AGS awards for adult students, transfer students, and former qualifying UA students who “stopped out” more than three years ago. The requirements mandate full-time status in bachelor-degree programs, and require students to maintain good academic standing. See complete details of awards, deadlines and requirements here.

Continuing Our Momentum

As we continue to work through our budgetary challenges and seek new ways to increase revenues, I strongly encourage you to find ways to approach expenditures in a fiscally conservative manner. Even more important, please join me in redoubling our efforts to increase student recruitment and retention.

We have seen measurable signs of progress this fall. Our new freshmen enrollment increased nearly 10% over last year, and posted the highest average GPA (3.48) in institutional history.

Now is the time to increase that momentum by broadening our efforts to attract students from non-traditional areas. These actions can do more than bring additional students to our doors, they can incentivize students for steady progress toward graduation.

Thank you for all you have done for our University. I feel honored to be a part of this fine community, and hope that I can count on your support and assistance in the weeks and months ahead as we continue to move our University forward.

Sincerely,

Matthew J. Wilson
President
The University of Akron