Columbia College a bargain

By Colette Battagler, the Columbian

Columbia College gate

The cost of attending Columbia College will rise for the 2009 fall semester. Students should expect to pay $1,250 more on tuition, room and board than they did for the 2008 school year.

Columbia College has one of the lowest tuition costs among Missouri private schools. In 2008, the college’s tuition was at least $3,000 less than the competition, and it will continue to be a great value in the future. However, Dr. Terry Smith, executive vice president and dean for academic affairs, says, "Inflation is a reality."

The 2008 tuition plus room and board (with a 20-meal plan) at Columbia College was $19,224. The cost will increase $1,250 to a total of $20,474 for the 2009 fall semester.

Smith says college costs rise every year, but this year the blow seems harder due to the bad economy and the overall rise in cost of living. The school does have a plan though. In the past they planned yearly, according to Smith, but now they are looking three to five years ahead in Columbia College’s financial future.

Smith says, "Our basic obligation to students is the best possible faculty." He also says this requires providing competitive faculty salaries and benefits, which is the main reason for raising costs. The money will also go towards adding more staff, which will make more and better services available to students.

The college is also planning ahead for the construction of the new science building where the softball field is currently located. Smith says Columbia College is raising money for the building and some school money will be used for the establishment. This means the softball field will have to move across Rangeline Street. Columbia College recently bought the Columbia Photo property as well, to house the Online Campus, expand parking and use for the Evening Campus.

In Smith’s view, being least expensive is not the best way for the college to stay competitive. "We don’t want to be priced too low because some people would look at that and say,'well how can you be good if you’re that inexpensive,'" Smith says. "We don’t aspire to be the most expensive, but we also don’t think it’s a good thing to be the least expensive."

Increased costs may bring disadvantages. The greatest is that some students will find it even more difficult to pay for their education. However, Smith says a lot of financial aid goes toward tuition and additional aid opportunities are still being discussed.

"We are carefully looking at how we can provide more aid to students who have affordability issues," he says. One of the ways Columbia College is trying to help is by collaborating with the state legislature to be sure the Access Missouri Grant is not cut from the state budget because it adds around $1.5million to financial aid.

Stephens College $24,150
William Jewell College $23,000
Avila University $20,150
Central Methodist University $17,980
Westminster College $17,250
William Wood University $16,690
Columbia College $14,576

-Research by Colette Battagler