Important Presidential Message August 10, 2020
Dear Students and Families,
Thank you to those who were able to participate in our webinar on Aug. 6. It is clear that college and university students and their families across the country and abroad are seeking lower tuition from their respective schools, expressing concern that the pandemic’s economic impact will result in students not receiving a high-quality education through an online format.
The purpose of this message is to provide a window into the University’s decision-making process regarding tuition and fees, particularly for those who were unable to join last week’s webinar. Although this letter will not provide every nuance we have considered, I hope it candidly expresses the realities of online learning and tuition costs. Ultimately, as a community, we must steward our resources wisely to preserve the value of the Arcadia degree for future generations of students.
Many assume that the quality of education will be significantly reduced through online learning. Although there will be pedagogical differences through an online experience, our goal continues to be to provide a transformative education for our diverse student body of learners. Our instructional technologists and faculty are working tirelessly to deliver on this commitment.
In fact, the online course experience is now an essential part of our institution’s fabric and will almost certainly be part of the student experience in perpetuity. Through this crisis, we have rapidly built expertise in new teaching modalities and launched a Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring (CTLM) to develop an inclusive pedagogy framework, communities of practice, and ongoing training. We expect even more online innovation in the months and years to come. This is the new normal. We have invested considerable resources in the technologies and training of faculty and staff and on redesigning courses for the coming academic year. These course designs are different from what we are accustomed to, not less than. In many ways, these new modalities offer advantages and opportunities that simply were not possible before.
- Although the residential portion is suspended for the fall, we intend to continue providing an excellent, albeit different, student life experience. Student Affairs staff have reimagined student life using the familiar and widespread technologies that connect this generation of learners. Although we greatly value the in-person experience, we are confident that we can deliver an exceptional experience that we can continue to leverage beyond the COVID crisis.
- Arcadia is a non-profit organization. The University is reinvesting revenue into research, retraining, and restructuring our curriculum to provide a meaningful educational experience for our students that prepares them to meet the demands of a post-COVID era workforce. The reality is that, like many non-profit institutions around the country, we will run a significant deficit because of COVID. We must steward our resources to preserve the value of your Arcadia degree for years to come. We can’t lower tuition because these innovations and adaptations cost more, not less, as we deliver a quality education and student engagement experience this fall.
- Please know that tuition rates have not increased due to COVID. A below-industry-average tuition increase was communicated before COVID. In addition to providing a significant tuition discount rate, Arcadia continues to work with students and their families on a personalized financial aid experience that aligns with our mission. Our approach to helping you finance your education is a responsibility that we take seriously. The Financial Aid Office will carefully review your financial aid package as a result of COVID and may be able to allocate resources available from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist students in need of aid or experiencing hardship.
- While some institutions charge significant sums for ambiguous fees, our approach focuses on keeping fees at reasonable levels as we build the University’s infrastructure. Student fees remain unchanged because there is considerable effort and expense involved in building the University’s infrastructure to deliver new instructional and student service modalities. Room rates have remained flat for a number of years, and in some cases were lowered this fall.
- The University’s financial statements are publicly available. To help our students and parents better understand the economics of the University, Arcadia will host a webinar to review how your tuition dollars support your education. In the interim, it may be helpful to know that $45 million of tuition revenue goes directly to provide aid and scholarships to students. The remaining funds support the teaching, research, and co-curricular engagement that make up the Arcadia experience.
We understand the enormous commitment students and families make when deciding to pursue a higher education degree. At Arcadia, we deliberately exercise strong stewardship of the resources entrusted to us as part of our Lived Value of Responsibility. While there are difficult decisions ahead of us, we will emerge stronger from this crisis and continue on our path of making Arcadia accessible and affordable. We will continue to communicate regularly and engage the community to arrive at the best decisions for our stakeholders and Arcadia University.
None of us wanted this crisis or expected to be in this situation. Please know that we are doing our best to manage a seemingly impossible situation. I appreciate your patience and trust.
Ajay Nair, Ph.D.