University of Sioux Falls cuts tuition by $10,000

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University of Sioux Falls president Brett Bradfield talks about the recent change in tuition for the upcoming Fall 2018 academic year Wednesday, Oct. 4, at his office on campus.

The University of Sioux Falls’ new president calls it a tuition “reset.”

The private Christian school announced Thursday a $10,000 across-the-board tuition cut designed to make the price of its degrees more transparent and affordable.

How much students actually save will depend on financial aid. The school has traditionally paired high tuition with generous scholarships, and that balance will shift some after the change.

“We still have scholarship structures,” said President Brett Bradfield, who was inaugurated last month. “But it will become, hopefully, considerably more simple to understand, here’s the cost, and here’s where we get to the point of making it affordable for families.”

More: New USF president seeks ‘alternative future’ for higher education

Incoming students will see a new tuition rate of $17,980 next fall, and current students will benefit as well. Following the announcement Thursday, USF students will receive an individualized financial aid readjustment letter explaining what the reset will mean for them. USF will also freeze room and board costs for 2018-19.

Just a quick glance at that letter told student Edwin Iraheta-Retana he’ll save an extra $1,000 next year. 

That’s a big deal for Iraheta-Retana, 19, who is paying for his college education out of his own pocket. He’s working two jobs now at Tilly’s and Embe in Sioux Falls, and he hopes the extra savings will give him more time to enjoy his time in college. 

“It’s a big relief,” he said.  

Sophomore Cassa Kuhl, 19, is also feeling relief after Bradfield’s announcement Thursday. She comes from a family with eight children, and she always thought private school would be out of reach. 

“When you first see a number like nearly $28,000, you get really anxious,” Kuhl said. 

She’s been able to attend USF with the help of financial aid, but she’s excited to see her payments go down even further. She hopes others like her won’t feel quite as much sticker shock after the reset.

Bradfield is careful to use the term “reset” rather than “reduction,” because it’s structured in a way to preserve the net revenue for the school.

The administration worked to find a tuition number that met the goal of affordability but also allowed the school to keep up its current programming. Essentially, it’s a way to simplify the process for students, Bradfield said. The new tuition structure lessens the gap between the sticker price and the actual amount students pay.

“Parents … just kind of want to know what’s the cost,” Bradfield said.

He also noted the reset is one of the ways he hopes to be proactive in setting the school up for future success in the challenging field of higher education.

Connor DeJong, a 20-year-old junior at USF, knows he won’t see quite as much benefit from the reset, but he’s excited more students will be able to have the good experiences he’s had at the school. 

“We’re opening the doors of USF to more students,” DeJong said. 

The tuition reset is likely only the first change to come under Bradfield’s leadership, who promised last month to bring USF into an “alternative future” for higher education.

Previously:USF to fill void left by Kilian closure

In addition to the tuition change, USF recently took over the Bridges program, which teaches English to non-native speakers in the Sioux Falls community. The university chose to take over the program after its former home, Kilian Community College, closed in 2016.

Bradfield is also overseeing a review of USF’s current academic programs to make sure they are “in alignment with the needs of students today.”

These changes come at a good time for the university. It recently graduated one of its largest-ever classes, and this fall it welcomed one of its largest-ever freshmen classes.

That’s helping set the stage for the tuition reset.

“Whenever you do something that is quite bold like this,” Bradfield said. “You only do it from a position of strength.” 

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