A change in Bible majors’ tuition may be the cause of an increase in majors.
The number of freshmen and transfer students declared as Bible majors has increased to 50-55, up from the low 40s last year. The final number won’t be available until official numbers are released on the twelfth day of classes.
This year, the university instituted a policy that students declared as Bible majors will be guaranteed to pay no more than 50 percent of tuition.
Historically, ACU has been of assistance to many churches because of the number of ministers trained here. But with rising tuition, the university was losing potential students as a result of the price point.
About a year ago, Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost, and a few others on campus decided to look at options for Bible majors’ tuition.
“As we decided to offer this discount, we realized that students have more and more programs to select from,” Rhodes said. “Often they are choosing the least expensive program.”
Traditionally, students in the department of Bible, missions and ministry have received scholarships specific to the department.
“Once student received full package, it would often end up being around 50 percent of tuition, but students wouldn’t always know that,” Rhodes said. “We’re not offering a great amount more but it’s more visible at the front end so students are able to engage with us earlier on.”
Dr. Rodney Ashlock, chair of the department of Bible, missions and ministry said he and the department were grateful for the university’s actions.
“We appreciate the administration and senior leadership team for their confidence in us as a department and for their desire to really be a place for young ministers to come and be trained to serve,” he said.
Ashlock said the department has put checks in place to make sure students aren’t inappropriately taking advantage of the discount. Students have to be enrolled in a major section of Bible and have to take Greek or another foreign language; there are GPA requirements as they go along.
“We’ve put in place ways of making sure they’re making progress towards our major,” Ashlock said.
For Corinna Carney, freshman missions and Bible ministry major from Denver, Colorado, the tuition break was a factor in her decision to attend ACU.
“Originally, I was looking at Baylor’s social work program,” Carney said. “But in comparison to ACU’s mission program and knowing I’d have no debt coming out of college, I felt like it was the right choice to come here.”
The university said they hope more students in the future, like Carney, will look seriously at the Bible departments offerings as they make their college decision.
Rhodes said since enacting the discount, the number of new students declared as Bible majors has grown, not dramatically, but still significantly.
“My hope would be that two things happen: that we would continue to grow in numbers and in quality,” Rhodes said. “A great place to be would be to have a number of students that we think we can serve sufficiently but be selective with the quality of those students.”
The discount is not retroactive and will apply only to new freshman and transfer students from this year forward.