It’s no secret attending Abilene Christian University is an expensive endeavor.
While average tuition at most private universities sits around $38,050, ACU tuition tops out at a whopping $41,500 per year, not including room and board or textbooks per year. This price also does not include housing, textbooks or a meal plan.
The average room and board price is currently $11,500, and while admittedly better than the average room and board costs for a private university, it is not going to stay that way for much longer with the opening of newer – and fancier – residence halls.
Construction of the Freshman Village is limiting lower cost residence halls, effectively barring lower income students from attending the university.
Looking strictly at the prices of the residence halls, the cheapest halls on campus are both Mabee Hall and Nelson Hall. Mabee sits at $2,900 per semester, $5,800 per year and Nelson sits at $2,500 per semester, $5,000 per year.
Now, comparing these prices to the new halls you see a dramatic increase. Bullock Hall and future Wessel Hall currently cost $3,850 per semester, $7,700 per year.
While to some a $2,000 increase may not be a big deal, for lower income students that extra $2,000 could be a deal breaker. And by renovating the cheaper options, the university is effectively closing off opportunities for lower income students to attend.
So what about financial aid? Wouldn’t that help students with the increased price in residence halls?
The average financial aid a freshman receives on campus is $20,187. Let’s do the math for a student living in Bullock Hall receiving the average financial aid for one year:
Tuition and fees: $41,500
Bullock Housing: $7,700
Classic 10 Swipe Plan (Cheapest meal plan available to underclassmen): $2,225
Textbooks (Estimated Average): $1,250
Total before financial aid: $52,675
Financial Aid Average: $20,187
Total after financial aid: $32,488
For a student living in Mabee or Nelson hall, that price would be dropped down to about $29,000, making attending the university just that much more affordable. Thinking the $2,000 increase in student housing wouldn’t make a difference is short sighted.
While the Freshman Village is being advertised as a place to build community by living in close proximity, campus is not so big that proximity in where freshmen are living will inhibit that growth. With more spaces like the renovated Moody Coliseum and a slowly improving campus mall area, students have plenty of access to build community.
Looking specifically at the breakdown of an entering freshman class, it’s important to note that Wessel hall will house 400 students, similarly to Bullock.
Let’s take a look at what it may look like to find an affordable residence hall as a women entering ACU as a freshman.
Bullock and Wessel house roughly 200 women each, sometimes more depending on the split of the freshman class and Sikes, though closing for renovation during 23-24 school year, will house more. Nelson comes in at the smallest residence hall only housing 178 women.
With the options split between Bullock, Wessel and soon-to-be renovated Sikes Hall, the chances you will get assigned a room in Nelson Hall have now been reduced to approximately 25% meaning freshmen are likely to have to deal with unwanted or strenuous price increases for living on campus, which is required as an entering freshman.
The university should not be focusing so heavily on the community that they are discounting lower income students.