Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

25° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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College ends need-based aid, decreases tuition

For one liberal arts college in Eureka, Ill., need-based financial aid has just become a thing of the past. In a bold move amid increasing tuitions nationwide, Eureka College drastically cut its current tuition cost by 30 percent, ending its use of need-based assistance. But at Northwestern, administrators said a tuition decrease is out of the question.

In 2003 Eureka’s Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Brian Sajko spearheaded the team that developed the “Eureka Idea,” an initiative to enact a $5,700 tuition decrease that brings total tuition costs to $13,000 per year.

Eureka administrators said they hope to increase the size of the college’s applicant pool by offering a tuition price significantly less than other private four-year universities.

Ellen Rigsby, Eureka’s director of financial aid, said the new system is more user-friendly, offering applicants a standard tuition fee free of the number crunching that need-based tuition adds to the financial aid package.

“It’s more straightforward,” Rigsby said. “Instead of getting more (need-based) aid, you’ll know exactly what you’ll be paying.”

The college will continue to provide scholarships based on academic achievement, talent and community service.

All current Eureka students must continue to pay the $18,700 tuition and will continue to receive financial aid. Room and board fees will not change for the 2004-05 school year.

Though Eureka College is a private liberal arts college, its new tuition will be competitive with many state universities throughout the country — a fact that administrators hope will attract more applicants.

Administrators will have to wait until next year to see the new policy’s results, Rigsby said.

A policy like Eureka’s is not necessary, administrators at NU said, because NU’s applicant pool continues to rise even as tuition increases. Rebecca Dixon, NU’s associate provost for university admissions, said this year’s applicant pool — the second-highest in history — illustrated the irrelevance of such incentives.

NU primarily offers need-based financial aid, and Dixon said academic scholarships would be difficult to provide in addition to the university’s need-based financial assistance.

“We feel that we want to meet full financial need,” Dixon said. “That’s a considerable amount of money.”

The university grants $52 million to students yearly, and 75 percent of NU students receive grants from federal, state or university programs.

Admission to NU is unrelated to the amount of financial aid a student requires.

For next academic year, NU students will pay $29,940 in tuition charges — an increase of about $2,000 from last year.

Total expenses, including books, personal expenses, and room and board, will total $42,297.

Some students say a small amount of financial aid always will be necessary — no matter the cost of tuition.

“If there’s a school that is going to prepare me for graduate school or my career path, I would rather have a few loans to pay off in the future,” said Valerie Bernstein, a Weinberg sophomore.

Other students said they believe no one should be hindered by family finances — and they criticize how financial aid is determined.

“I don’t know that it is fairly assessed,” said David Wardrop, a Medill freshman. “It’s not a perfect science, but it is a little more imperfect than it should be.”

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College ends need-based aid, decreases tuition