Graphic by Haley Hoidal
Seaver College’s tuition increased by 5.7% for the 2023-24 academic year — part of $90,012 total direct costs for a student living on campus, according to Pepperdine’s website.
In 2022-23, the total direct cost for Seaver was $81,702 for on-campus students, according to Pepperdine’s website.
“This year, the effects of inflation were just so significant that we needed to have an increase that I would characterize as certainly being atypical relative to the past few years,” Dean of Seaver College Michael Feltner said.
Within the total amount listed on Pepperdine’s website there are indirect and direct costs. Direct costs include tuition, housing and food. Indirect costs are University estimates including transportation, books and personal costs, according to Pepperdine’s website.
Including indirect costs, Pepperdine predicts the price will be $93,578 for a student living on campus, according to Pepperdine’s website.
“At this moment, I don’t see a reason why tuition possibly has to be raised with the amount that they’re already getting,” sophomore Tobias Taylor said.
Rise in Tuition
The University has seen a steady increase in tuition for the past decade, according to the Institute of Education Sciences Data Feedback Report.
In 2018-19, tuition was $53,932.
In 2019-20, tuition was $55,892.
In 2020-21, tuition was $58,002.
In 2021-22, tuition was $59,702.
In 2022-23, tuition was $62,390.
For 2023-24, tuition will be $65,990.
One to 11 units will be $2,070 per unit, 12-18 units will be a flat rate of $32,995 per semester and anything above 18 units will be $2,070 per unit.
The percent increase of tuition has ranged from 2.95% to 4.95% in the past decade, Chief Financial Officer Greg Ramirez wrote in a March 31 email to the Graphic, with this year having the biggest increase at 5.7%.
This makes Pepperdine one of the most expensive universities in the nation. Kenyon College ranks as the most expensive as of September 2022 with flat-rate tuition of $66,490, according to U.S. News & World Report.
“It is not an inexpensive operation to run a campus in Malibu and to run six global campuses,” Feltner said.
Direct and Indirect Costs
Seaver will also charge a $500 Wellness Fee and a $252 Campus Life Fee for all direct costs.
Last year, housing and food was $18,560, based on a double occupancy room and basic meal plan, according to their website.
The housing and food estimates are based off of different plans for the 2022-23 academic year and the 2023-24 academic year, according to the website.
The Wellness and Campus Life fees were the same price — $500 and $252, respectively.
The Wellness Fee goes toward medical care, mental health services and resilience training, according to Pepperdine’s website. It also allows students to have free counseling appointments with licensed therapists, either on campus or remote, through a partnership with TimelyCare, according to previous Graphic reporting.
The campus life fee goes toward the Student Programming Board, Student Government Association, Inter-Club Council and Student Wellness Advisory Board, which are all organizations that benefit the student body, according to the Student Organizations handbook.
The University predicts students will spend $1,000 on books and supplies, $1,000 on transportation and $1,500 on personal expenses for a total of $3,500 indirect costs. Last year, indirect costs were the same.
Reasons for the Increase
The University increased the prices of tuition, housing and food to continue to deliver a high-class education for students, Feltner said, while also working through the effects of inflation.
“The external environment changed dramatically,” Feltner said. “We’ve seen inflation that was very modest to low suddenly increase pretty dramatically over the last year and a half to two years.”
Inflation rates peaked at 9% in June 2022, but have decreased since then, according to Forbes.
Feltner said 80% of Seaver’s revenue is from tuition, meaning the University is heavily tuition dependent. To improve the quality of Pepperdine, Feltner said the University had to increase tuition.
“I wish I could say that tuition didn’t need to be where it was at,” Feltner said. “But it does.”
The University uses tuition money to pay its faculty and staff, serve students through programs like Convocation, invest in support services for students and deliver a high-quality education, Feltner said.
“I want to be sensitive to the fact that it is not a small number,” Feltner said. “But I also realize that what it’s allowing us to do is to deliver a high-quality experience that is preparing students for success.”
“While none of the Mountain dollars are coming from tuition, it does symbolize that we’re investing heavily in the University,” Feltner said.
Donors are funding the Mountain, according to the Mountain’s website.
Taylor said he didn’t know where tuition money went because the University does not explicitly break down where tuition goes for students.
“It [tuition] honestly is used to try to fix the parking issue that they have,” Taylor said. “If they believe that it is something different, I am all ears to really finding out what the tuition is being raised for.”
The University offers four main types of scholarships for students — merit based awards, scholarships through the Churches of Christ, private scholarships and grants and departmental scholarships, according to Pepperdine’s Financial Aid Brochure.
The University awarded $154.4 million worth of scholarships in 2022 and $135.6 million worth of scholarships for 2021, according to Pepperdine’s 2021-22 audited financial statements.
Ramirez wrote as the tuition goes up, the amount of financial aid assistance for students will also go up.
“As our endowment grows, more scholarship will become available to our students,” Ramirez wrote.
However, the set financial aid the University grants a student at the beginning of their time at Pepperdine does not change.
“The aid awards for students do not change over time,” Feltner said.
Sophomore Faith Webster said her scholarships were one of the reasons she decided to come to Pepperdine — but now she is still paying more than she agreed to when she committed to the University.
“I was able to come to Pepperdine because I got X amount’ of scholarship,” Webster said. “If I didn’t get that, I wouldn’t have been able to come to Pepperdine. But that was based off of the total cost two years ago.”
Students said the tuition increase is disheartening because when they started at Pepperdine, they agreed to pay a much lower price.
“It discourages a lot of people who are on the fence of knowing if they’ll be able to afford it,” Taylor said.
Taylor said even though there are grants and loans, it isn’t guaranteed a student will receive them, so it is hard to know how to afford the University with an increase in tuition every year.
Webster agreed and said she would like to know the exact breakdown of what her tuition goes toward, especially when it keeps rising.
“If they’re increasing it [tuition] by $8,000, what are we paying for?” Webster said. “Also, why has it increased that much?”
Tuition Across all Five Schools
The tuition will also increase for all of Pepperdine’s five schools, Ramirez wrote.
Feltner said the University will continue to carefully consider every penny they spend and invest in a world-class education for their students.
“As long as I’m convinced that we’re spending our money wisely and with a high degree of stewardship and that we’re investing richly and deeply in the experiences that our students have to prepare them for success, then our tuition needs to be what our tuition needs to be,” Feltner said.
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