Turner Hall, one of Shepherd's many unused buildings.

Shepherd Tuition to Increase

In early February, the Shepherd University Board of Governors sent out an email detailing an increase in tuition for Shepherd’s students. This increase in tuition is in response to current inflation and was calculated in comparison to the cost of living and tuitions of other local universities.

Changes in tuition will go into effect in the fall semester of 2022. This increase marks the first time Shepherd has changed its tuition prices in over three years. According to Shepherd, full time students both in and out of state will see an increase of $249 per semester in tuition and fees. Overall, in-state students enrolled full time should expect to see an increase of 6.4% in their tuition. Out of state students should expect to see an increase of 2.7%.

Credit hour costs for in-state students will increase by $15 per credit hour, bringing the price up to $500 per credit hour. Students seeking the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree will see an increase of $40 per credit hour, bringing the price up to anywhere between $727 to $767 per credit hour. Out-of-state credits will remain unchanged at $717 per credit hour.

Additional increases approved by the board include costs of living on campus. Room and board rates will increase an average of 2.7% and meal plans will increase by an average of 3.4%.

After reading this email, I spoke with Dean of the College of Business Ben Martz about the upcoming changes. According to Martz, the rise in tuition is a change that occurs regularly, but with the ongoing pandemic, Shepherd had decided not to raise the tuition since 2019.

The jump of 6% in tuition is calculated as a change over 3 years, rather than one sudden jump in pricing. These adjusted prices are in response to the cost of maintaining the University in relation to the current state of inflation.

Martz also highlighted the importance of Shepherd’s state funding, which has seen little increase over time. When calculating funding, the state takes into consideration graduation rates, the number of credits each student takes, how many students live on campus, and the current cost of living.

Over the past three years, Shepherd has seen an increase of disaggregation – a term Martz used to describe students paying for parts of the university instead of the whole experience. Students are more likely to take fewer credits over time, live off campus, avoid paying material fees, and are less likely to eat on campus.

Often, students take specific credits at Shepherd and transfer to other universities. On top of this, Shepherd only houses roughly 30% of its students. With all these factors combined, Shepherd has seen lower state funding over the past three years.

In response to this, Martz reminded me that Shepherd only charges students up to 12 credit hours. Any additional credits will still be charged as 12 credit hours. If more students take on more credit hours, they should graduate earlier for a lower cost.

This would both improve factors such as success rates and student enrollment when considering funding from the state. He also stated that Shepherd is willing to reduce some of the financial burden on students by using cheaper materials such as older books.

“Tuition could decrease if the state deems that it is doable based on their formula,” Martz said. “We hope to see no further increases. We would ideally want prices to stay below the cost of living.”

Upon speaking with students, it seems unlikely that many would be willing to take on more classes to alleviate costs. “I’m choosing to live off campus my last semester due to the increase in tuition,” said Shepherd student Natasha Carpenter. “I can’t afford to pay $10,000 per semester with everything combined. I’d rather work more to live somewhere nicer. There are years old puke stains in my carpets and things are falling apart. If it cuts down costs but is also relevant to what I need to learn then yes, I would take on the extra credits. I will not stress myself out more for classes that don’t correlate to my major/minor.”

These thoughts are shared by various students, who voiced their dissatisfaction with Shepherd’s resources. One of the most common issues when students were asked about what they would change on campus is the public technology. The computers in the library are outdated and underpowered, and it is not rare to check out a damaged camera either.

“The nursing building rarely fills its vending machines and students do not have the resources to practice their lab skills outside of classes,” said Shepherd nursing senior Madalyn Jones. Other students mentioned that, despite the sharp decrease in students, it is still nearly impossible to find a parking spot.

“I paid $70 to park here and I can never find a spot. But you can always expect a ticket if you let your meter run down,” said another student.

Most communications majors report that most of their classes are held in one classroom in the basement of Knutti Hall. “Yes, there is a studio to work with, but more often than not it is locked,” said one Comm student. Most English majors cited that they pay far more than they are comfortable with. Having to pay for 10 or more books each semester can become pricy, even when only renting them. “I’d have to commute to class. Having to work to live off campus on top of 15 credits on top of extracurriculars . . . it’s an unreasonable workload,” said English student Sarah Hirsch.

After three years of no changes in tuition, Shepherd’s decision to increase prices leaves students asking for more from their university. The students interviewed above are all juniors and above – none of them answered that they were satisfied with Shepherd.

“It wasn’t until this year I’ve seen them actively try and better campus. Students still complain all the time about what we get out of our tuition now. These things need to be addressed first,” Carpenter said. With state funding dependent on student engagement, it seems that most students are deciding to engage less with Shepherd in the wake of increased prices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.