With an expected normal start to the fall semester, the university does not have plans to change the amount of tuition, yet is prepared to offer more financial support.
Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost of the university, said the leadership has talked about, like every university being prepared, a plan B, but they do expect to have a normal fall semester.
“We’re just looking forward to getting back to normal,” Rhodes said. “We are preparing for the unknown. We have a contingency plan if anything disrupts our plans, but our plan is to have a normal start in the fall.”
Rhodes said, like every university, they are watching freshmen enrollment across the board every day.
“Right now, we have strong signs of enrollment for our freshmen class,” Rhodes said. “We’re feeling good about the interest in ACU.”
Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, said the university is taking steps from reimagining payment plans, adhering to more flexible terms and preparing to provide additional financial aid.
“I think [possible effects on enrollment numbers in the fall is] one of the potentials that we could face given the significant financial strain that these families are under,” Schubert said. “So we’re watching very closely registration numbers compared to previous years, as well as freshmen housing deposits relative to previous years. But one of the real positive aspects of this is we’re positioned well to help families who are experiencing financial hardship with a number of different sources of support and strategies that are specifically designed to come alongside them during these very unusual times.”
The CARES Act that was recently passed is helping to provide federal funding to universities during the recession caused by the impacts of COVID-19, and ACU has qualified to receive funding. At least 50 percent of the funding received is required to be used to support students in financial aid.
“We feel like the avenue to approach costs of families is through scholarship and financial aid,” Schubert said. “So our tuition has already been set for the fall and we don’t anticipate changing that, but what we are prepared to do is to come alongside each family in a way that is specific and personal to them.”
Schubert said there will be more sources of financial support for families in the fall.
“Anytime a family situation changes that offers us the ability to go back and qualify them for additional aid,” Schubert said. “Many of our families have made contributions to the Katie Kirby Fund, which is specifically designed to provide financial support for students and families in need, and that fund has a higher balance than it has in the past.”
Rhodes said the university is receiving deposits from new students every day.
“Like every university, we are concerned, but we are also very optimistic based upon what we’re seeing,” Rhodes said.