Linfield’s full-time student tuition will increase by 3.06 percent—the smallest dollar increase in the last decade and the lowest percentage increase since 2003.
Tuition will go from $35,900 to $37,000 for the 2014-2015 school year, according to Vice President for Enrollment Management Dan Preston and Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer, Mary Ann Rodriguez.
A study by the National Center for Education Statistics reported a 31 percent tuition, room, and board price increase between the 2000-2001 and 2010-2011 school years for private universities. College costs have risen drastically over the past decade, and Linfield is no exception.
“Tuition at Linfield, like most colleges, goes up annually,” said Preston and Rodriguez in an email. “This year, the majority of the additional resources available in the budget went toward a modest increase in employee salaries and corresponding benefits.”
Budget resources for next year will also go toward departmental operating budgets to repair and remodel campus facilities, increased accident and disaster insurance for the college, and student work-study funding for the increase in Oregon’s minimum wage.
Every year, Linfield’s president, his or her cabinet, an associate dean of faculty, and others devise the budget after considering departmental budget requests, incoming revenue, and student sensitivity to price changes.
After the budget is reviewed by the Board of Trustees in early January, “the budget is presented at an open campus meeting, including video feed to the other campus (if presented in McMinnville, video feed to Portland),” said Preston and Rodriguez in an email.
After passing through other groups, the President presents the full proposal in February and it is officially approved in May by the Board of Trustees.
Although Linfield has no current short or long-term policies regarding tuition pricing, tuition has and will continue to increase annually.
But Rodriguez and Preston claimed Linfield is well aware of the effects increased costs have on students.
“One of the top reasons students give for not continuing enrollment at Linfield is because of the costs of the college. ” said Rodriguez and Preston in an email.
“The smaller the cost increase to students, the greater the possibility that enrollment rates of continuing students will be positively affected,” said Rodriguez and Preston in an email.
Professor of Economics Jeffrey Summers, who has published research in the field of the economics of higher education, emphasized the importance of looking at the valid reasons behind tuition increases.
“You raise the price because you know you want to raise the quality of the education you’re providing,” Summers said.
Summers argued that while Linfield increases its tuition price for students, it does so in an attempt to provide more educational and co-curricular offerings.
“I’ve been here 20 years, and I can say with a great degree of confidence that the academic standards at Linfield are much better than they were 20 years ago. My students come better prepared, I am able to expect more from my students and they deliver more,” Summers said.
The economics professor, who served as the associate dean of faculty for seven years and sat in on budget meetings, is certain of Linfield’s ability to keep its students’ ability to pay in mind.
“I think nationally, Linfield has been recognized for its quality. The quality has gone up, but the price has gone up, too. In general, I’d say Linfield has done a pretty good job of balancing those two,” Summers said.
Students generally understand the need to increase costs, but may find themselves questioning the limits of tuition increases.
“I don’t want tuition to be higher, but the money has to come from somewhere, and raising tuition is probably the easiest thing the school can do,” freshman Patty Roberts said.
Helen Lee can be reached at