Students returning to California Baptist University likely noticed a jump in tuition and other on-campus expenses — including housing and meal plans — in their Course and Fee Statement this year. Based on one fourth-year student’s statements, tuition and general expenses for on-campus living increased 3.1% since last year. Overall, tuition and general expenses increased 8.4% since the 2019-20 school year.
However, this uptick in expenses has not just occurred at CBU. College students across the nation have been facing rising tuition and expenses for on-campus living. CBU is a private, not-for-profit four-year institution. Among schools in this category, the average tuition and fees was $38,070 in 2021-22, according to a report from College Board. This was already an $800 increase from the average the year before. As of 2022, CBU’s tuition and expenses for on-campus living was an estimated $49,578 before financial aid, according to the CBU website.
Angela Meluski, vice president of Marketing and Communication, said that universities commonly reassess tuition and fees and recommend rates for each year. However, this year is unique given current economic circumstances in the U.S.
“This year, uncommon economic conditions that are dramatically affecting American families and households also are impacting higher education institutions,” Meluski said.
This year’s tuition hikes are occurring at least in part because of leaps in inflation rates in the past year, hitting a high of 9.1% in June.
“As a college student, rising tuition prices due to inflation impacts my life evidently,” said Faith Pilbin, junior entrepreneurship major. “Being in the middle of college while prices are rising can make it difficult to predict what post-grad life will be like. Unfortunately, I know there is not much the university itself can do to remedy the national problem of inflation.”
To help amid the difficult economic situation, Meluski encourages students to take advantage of financial aid opportunities. CBU provides financial aid such as merit scholarships, need-based grants and guarantee initiatives. Meluski said that CBU provided an average of $14,000 in aid to more than 6,500 undergraduate students this past year.
“Each year, millions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed mostly due to a lack of applicants,” Meluski said. “Take advantage of FAFSA, Cal Grants, GI bills, corporate scholarships, CBU-sponsored scholarships and many other opportunities to secure financial support.”
Despite opportunities such as the merit scholarship and state financial aid, Valeria Molina, senior biomedical sciences major, said she still struggles with affordability.
“I think the university should be increasing scholarship amounts for everyone if they will be increasing the tuition because they only increase the merit scholarship for incoming students but they don’t increase it for current students, which I find unfair because the current students end up having to pay the higher tuition price without an increase in scholarship,” Molina said.
New and returning students encounter differences between aid such as merit scholarships. While returning students receive the same merit scholarship value as they did when they entered the school, new students receive larger scholarships. For example, according to senior Course and Fee Statements and the CBU website, while a senior can receive up to $13,500 for a merit scholarship, a new student can receive up to $15,500 — a $2,000 difference per semester.
Molina recommends that students look beyond CBU for additional scholarship opportunities to help.
Beyond financial aid, Meluski emphasized that students should use other money-saving resources, including student discounts.