Tuition increase coming for 2017-18

Written By Josh Croup, Co-Sports Editor

Students will pay more to attend classes next year at Point Park, as tuition is once again on the rise.

The Board of Trustees approved a 3.9 percent tuition increase for all traditional undergraduate students in 2017-18. The figures were outlined in a letter sent to students’ home addresses dated Jan. 18 and are reflected on the university’s website.

Students in the Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA) will pay $1,380 more in tuition costs next year. Non-COPA students will experience a tuition increase of $1,080.

“At Point Park University, the faculty and staff provide you with a distinctive, innovative and experienced-based education in a dynamic, urban setting,” the letter sent to students said.

COPA students have paid more than non-COPA students since tuition increased slightly more for COPA students for the 2001-02 school year. Both COPA and non-COPA students paid the same tuition of $12,596 in 2000-01.

Freshman acting major Braxton McCollum was in the cafe Monday celebrating the news that he was cast for the role of Fang in the upcoming Pittsburgh Playhouse production of “The Adventures of Nate the Great.”

“It’s been a blast,” McCollum said of his freshman year. “I’ve really enjoyed it. I definitely am trying my best to take advantage of as many opportunities that I can.”

McCollum said he is willing to pay more than non-COPA students, as long as he gets back what he puts into his college career.

“I’m very fortunate to have scholarships and grants to make paying tuition easier,” McCollum said. “However, if it were to get to a certain point [that tuition was too high], I would be concerned.”

McCollum makes up part of the 90 percent of students at Point Park that receive financial aid each year. It is the No. 1 cost-driver of the university, which awarded more than $90 million of financial aid to students in 2015-16.

On the opposite end of the newly-renovated cafe sat sophomore sports, arts and entertainment management major Keely Sapienza.

Because she is a resident educator (RE) on the 10th floor of Lawrence Hall, Sapienza does not have to pay for room and board, which eases her burden of paying for college.

What she can’t pay for in grants or scholarships, Sapienza is paying for out of pocket or with student loans. She called the increase just “another year that tuition goes up,” adding that she wants more tuition transparency.

“I don’t know what my tuition is going towards,” Sapienza said. “I know it pays for my education. What if it’s going to something I don’t know about? For room and board, I know I’m paying for housing and for food. That’s one thing. I want to know more details.”

The university did not return a request for comment in time for print publication.

The 2017-18 tuition increases follow a 2.9 percent increase from 2015-16 to 2016-17, which marked the smallest percent increase since Point Park gained university status in 2003.

Current undergraduate COPA seniors began their Point Park careers paying $31,540 in tuition, while non-COPA seniors paid $24,980 during their freshman year of 2013-14.

United Student Government (USG) President Blaine King is part of that senior class. As a broadcast reporting major, King said he is pleased with where his money has gone the last four years and has learned to deal with tuition increases.

“It happens at universities and colleges all over the country,” King said in a phone interview Monday. “It’s normal. A little increase here and there is going to help provide things we need… It’s something we have to deal with.”

Next year’s tuition numbers represent a 15.5 percent increase for non-COPA students in the last five years, and a 16.6 percent increase for COPA students in that time.

The tuition increases coincide a slight increase in the total enrollment figures in recent years.

This year’s senior class was part of a total undergraduate enrollment of 3,226 their freshman year in 2013-14. Undergraduate enrollment has fluctuated slightly since, and sat at 3,276 for the fall 2016 semester.

Total enrollment at the university has increased to 4,093 at the start of the 2016-17 year, up from 3,841 in 2013-14.

A key component to the university’s enrollment increase has been its online programs. Between undergraduate and graduate online programs, enrollment stood at 588 at the start of 2016, up from 38 students when the programs were introduced in 2014.

Students with questions regarding tuition hikes such as Sapienza’s are encouraged by King to bring them to USG at its weekly meetings.

For now, Sapienza hopes to get the most from her money at Point Park and worry about the costs down the line.

“I’m hoping to pay it off later,” Sapienza said. “I want to finish my degree. I have to accept the tuition costs if I want to continue that, even though it sucks.”