By Hannah Schultz
This summer Asbury University’s $33,000 total cost was ranked as #50 in the “Top 50 Most Af- fordable Christian Colleges in the U.S.” by Christian Universities Online (CUO). While this might seem like a staggering number, students have found that through financial aid, academics and the spiritual vitality that Asbury emphasizes, the college is well worth the thousands they might end up spending.
According to a report from College Board, the average cost of a private, four-year college in the US, including room and board, is $30,000 per year. The typical cost of attending Asbury is about $3,000 above the average.
An article written for Asbury’s website stated that 90 percent of students receive some kind of financial aid, whether that be in the form of scholarships, grants, or loans. Over 50 percent of students have more than half of their tuition costs covered by a combination of scholarships and financial aid. With this aggressive approach to lowering costs for students, the average net price of actually attending Asbury drops to about $19,000, according to CUO.
However, Asbury does have room to improve. Its ranking as #50 should serve as a reminder that af- fordability and high quality academics are closely intertwined in the college selection process. During the current economic slump, the average ticket price on a college education is starting to look more and more daunting to incoming students. For many, the prospect of paying off thousands of dollars in an uncertain job market is prompting a mass influx to in-state, public colleges, which average $8,655 per year, according to College Board, less than half of the cost of private colleges.
Ranked #1 on CUO’s list, Lee University is an example of a private, Christian college that has tried to shrink the disparity in tuition costs between private and public universities while maintaining aca- demic excellence. The college’s average net price is $11,773 per year, over $7,000 less than Asbury’s after a student would receive scholarships. It is also consistently named a “Top Tier” college in the South by US News and World Report, a list on which Asbury placed in the top five in past years.
Although tuition might be an aspect of the university that could use some improvement in the coming years, Asbury has a unique quality which continues to draw in students and see them return to campus each semester. Eighty percent of freshmen stay on after their first year, and incoming class- es grow every fall, with 390 students joining the university in 2014. For Kayla Lutes, a sophomore, the difference was in the school’s commitment to true spiritual vitality. “Out of every prospective college I visited, Asbury was the most intentional about integrating faith,” she said about her choice.
For many students, the aspect of Asbury that truly separates it from a public college is the assur- ance of being able to rely on God in every moment of campus life, and affordability becomes relative in the wake of His plan. Kayla Clevenger, a sophomore who attended Asbury as a freshman, trusted God to give her the ability to attend Asbury despite the discouraging obstacle of large expenses. “Tu- ition was a very important factor in my decision to choose Asbury, but I knew that God would pro- vide if I chose to go there,” she said of the impact of tuition costs on her college selection process. “And He did.”