Concordia University trying new tuition approach

Editor’s note: Former Glean writer Max Sparber is filling in for Brian Lambert for a few days.

All we ever hear about is rising tuition costs, and how they are driving our young people into a job market that cannot help them pay off their momentous debt. Well, it’s almost all we hear about. Mila Koumpilova of the PiPress offers up an unexpected reversal of that narrative: Concordia University is slashing its undergraduate tuition by a third this coming fall. “We’re trying to get away from this shell game of having high tuition and high discounts,” Koumpilova quotes senior vice president and chief operating officer Eric LaMott as saying. And here’s another thing we almost never hear in the news: Somebody saying a business model doesn’t work, and so they are going to try a new one. The catch is that there will be less financial aid, but, then, that also means less student debt. I’m sure somebody will take issue with this, and will have good cause to. Just now, I’m caught up in the novelty of somebody hitting the brakes and reversing when headed for a brick wall.

In fact, there is all sorts of surprising news. Despite what you see on television, typically when a criminal case goes cold, it stays cold. (According to “Freakonomics,” only 1 in 20 cold cases lead to an arrest, and only 1 in 100 lead to conviction.) So the news that somebody was arrested in Kansas City for a 32-year-old Minneapolis stabbing murder caused ears to perk up. Police have not given any details, but Nicole Norfleet from the Strib points out  the details we do know are consistent with the case of 22-year-old Mary Cathryn Steinhart, whose murder was so extreme that an official from Hennepin County medical examiner’s office at the time called it “one of the more violent ones I’ve dealt with.” I am someone who has known (gratefully, from a bit of a remove) the grief that accompanies a murder when the killer is known; I cannot imagine the depth of sadness that comes from such a thing being unresolved, and can only hope this will bring some measure of peace to the friends and family of Ms. Steinhart, or whoever the as-unnamed victim was.

Another piece of unexpected news, as reported by Aaron Rupar of City Pages: Rush Limbaugh has responded to Vikes punter Chris Kluwe, who penned a now-famously profane letter to an anti-gay marriage Baltimore politician. This is not the surprising part — after all, this is almost exactly the sort of thing you would expect the radio
personality to respond to. No, the surprising thing is that Limbaugh seemed to actually like the letter. Like it? He positively raved about it, calling it “funny” and saying that “Everybody loves [the letter] because it excoriates Emmett Burns as being an absolute toad and an idiot.”

Continuing with this theme, if there are two things the Uptown Theater is famous for, it’s for its general fine selection of independent films and its absolutely terrible seating. Not any more — Mark Saxenmeyer of KSTP reports that the theater’s $2 million renovation includes less but better seating. The theater also has a fully stocked bar, so I’m giving the new seats a lifespan of about 90 days.

My final story isn’t local, but, what the heck, while we’re reporting unexpected news, the Dow closed at 13,300 on Tuesday night, the best it has been since 2007. What does this mean? I think it’s pretty obvious. We are in Bizarro World, home planet of Superman’s mirror-opposite nemesis. Ask yourself if the following is true: Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! I think you have your answer.

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Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/12/2012 - 09:19 am.

    “Unexpected Reversal of That Narrative”

    Some of us have been pointing out for years that the “high aid – high tuition model” is broken.

    See for example:

    “Course Correction in Higher Education”

    Here Mr. McNabb’s first suggestion is:

    1. Scrap the “high tuition high financial aid” experiment and roll back tuition.

    He concludes:

    This ill-conceived experiment for financing undergraduate education should be abandoned before it creates an entire generation of indentured students. Rolling back tuition is the most effective and efficient way to provide financial aid. We need to once again make higher education affordable for all students.

    Mr. McNabb is a double alum of the U of M and the parent of students who have been undergrads as well as law, medical, and dental school students.

  2. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 09/12/2012 - 09:26 am.

    I swear I’ve read something similar to this before…

    Oh, man. As if Romney needed *that* on the heels of the latest dismal pol numbers.

    “the Dow closed at 13,300 on Tuesday night, the best it has been since 2007.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/12/2012 - 11:16 am.

      How many unemployed people

      do you think own stock?

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/12/2012 - 02:26 pm.


      ….some folks don’t know how the markets work.

      The Dow has been flat over the past three years. A one day rally isn’t news to anyone but day traders.

      It’s the sort of issue that Mitt is uniquely qualified to explain to the uneducated.

      • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/12/2012 - 03:33 pm.

        Dow flat over the past three years?

        I don’t think so, Mr. Swift.

        Please do your research:

        Obama One Of Five Presidents To See Dow Jones Gain More Than 50 Percent Over First Three Years


        The three year change – from today – has been +36%

        CNN Money, Dow Jones Industrial Average


      • Submitted by Pat Borzi on 09/12/2012 - 04:10 pm.


        That’s false, as the link below will show. Look to the right of the chart for the pertinent information.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/12/2012 - 06:29 pm.


        ….there are more people who don’t understand the markets than I thought.

        For your education, gentlemen:

        Dow Nov ’08: 13,600

        Dow Sept ’12: 13,200

        It climbed out from from an Obama dip of 6547 in ’09 to almost exactly where it started…unless, as I say, you are a day trader: That is flat.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/13/2012 - 10:12 am.

          Sorry, Mr. Swift

          You said the Dow had been flat for three years and this is incorrect. I gave you the data.

          The comparison you have given above is NOT for three years, that would be Sept ’09 until Sep ’12 over which period the increase was +36%.

          You are the one who does not understand the market. Plenty of people made money over the period in question.

          Quit making it up and moving the goalposts to four years, now that you have been called on the facts.
          Carry on. Do your research next time before making a blatantly false statement.

  3. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/12/2012 - 09:43 am.

    Your protest is too late

    “before it creates an entire generation of indentured students.” ?? It has ALREADY done so.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/12/2012 - 03:46 pm.

      You are right, except for some schools

      like Mac and Carleton…

      But we have to keep hammering away. This situation is not sustainable. See my link above for some other suggestions about how to turn this mess around.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/12/2012 - 05:02 pm.

        It’s thieir endowments relative to small enrollments…

        …that makes the difference for these 2 schools.

        From Macalester’s site: “…The February 29, 2012 market value of the endowment was $642 million.”

        From Carletion’s site: “Carleton College’s endowment market value as of June 30, 2011 was $653,465,246”

        Kudos to these schools, with their fine endowments !! They can adopt income-neutral admissions policies, because they can supplement the aid students get from other sources out of their endowments. This is why it can be cheaper for a student to go to Macalester or Carleton than to the University of Minnesota !!!

        But the proportion of these schools’ enrollments to total enrollment in MN colleges and universities is a trifle.

        “In fall 2010, 467,714 students were enrolled in Minnesota public and private” (from the MN Office of Higher Education site)

        Macalester has about: 2,000 students; Carleton: about the same.

        So we’re talking 4,000 students out of 467,000 – less than 1%.

        This is another kind of 1% vs. 99% imbalance. All those students going to public schools and other private schools have no hope their schools will come into huge endowments such as Carleton and Macalester.

        The takeaway for any high school student who might be perusing these pages: work hard, get good grades, then apply to the best schools. It pays !!

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/12/2012 - 07:22 pm.

          Again, we are basically in agreement.

          Although I have some ideas about how education could be provided at public institutions for less money.

          At both Mac and Carleton, the support that led to these high endowments often comes from graduates. Carleton, in particular, has one of the highest rates of graduate giving in the country. At the U of M, for example, not so much.

          I do try to point out to students that they should not write off Mac and Carleton because they are “too expensive.” For a student from a family without a lot of financial resources both are wonderful opportunities. Of course you have to be a very good student and a well rounded individual.

          Doing some research on average debt at graduation should be part of any potential student’s college selection process.

  4. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/12/2012 - 09:45 am.

    Education, Schmeducation

    “The catch is that there will be less financial aid, but, then, that also means less student debt. I’m sure somebody will take issue with this…”

    It used to be that education was regarded as a terrific investment for the country as a whole. Since the 1960s, somewhere along the line, someone figured out there was money to be made here – BIG money, so to heck with investment, especially since the students are such easy marks.

    So student debt has now grown to exceed ALL CREDIT CARD DEBT in the U.S.

    You can easily tell who the proponents of this destructive fleecing are – they are the Senators and Congressmen who now swear they will extinguish the new financial regulations, including those affecting student debt. Never mind that recent vote on the interest rates of college loans – that was just window dressing. The real work will take place behind closed doors and in those conferences with lobbyists, i.e., in secret.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/12/2012 - 11:24 am.

    It cost me over $100,000

    to put my oldest through Macalester. Even with financial aid.

    Today he’s making a nice living using technical skills that I taught him when he was in high school.

    If you want the cost of something to increase, have government subsidize it. The reason the cost of higher education has skyrocketed is the same reason that the cost of health care has skyrocketed. Government subsidies.

    Eliminate the Pell Grants and other government subsidies and watch the costs fall through the floor as colleges and universities will have to lower their costs if they want to retain their customers. Econ 101.

    • Submitted by Jim Camery on 09/12/2012 - 01:46 pm.

      and I paid for it myself…

      Subsidies have nothing to do with the increases; in fact its just the opposite. I put myself through the U in the early 80’s getting 2 degrees in 7 years working in liquor stores and getting about $3k in loans and no financial aid. It was heavily subsidized at that point; the state’s U appropriation was much larger than it is now in constant dollars. The subsidy kept tuition low and allowed someone to get a degree with no outside resources. It would be impossible for me to do this in 2012. There aren’t enough hours in the day to both take classes and pay for them.

  6. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/12/2012 - 12:04 pm.

    Glad to hear that you have the money

    to help your child to go to Macalester, Mr. Tester. It is wonderful that you were in a financial position to aid your child in obtaining an education. Others are not so fortunate.

    Macalester is a fine school.

    They also have one of the finest financial aid programs in the state of Minnesota. The average debt for gradating students at Mac is the lowest in the state, including public institutions.

    Macalester Student Loan Debt Lowest in State and Below National Average

    Macalester graduates have the lowest average student loan debt among graduates of any Minnesota college, public or private, according to a recent analysis by the Project on Student Debt, produced by the nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success in Berkeley, Calif.



    “Thanks to the generosity of our alumni and donors, Macalester is able to offer more grant and scholarship-based financial aid than many other colleges,” [Mac president] Rosenberg explained. “We simply couldn’t do it without philanthropy.”

  7. Submitted by Pederson Pederson on 09/12/2012 - 01:06 pm.

    Concordia’s Tuition Reduction

    I think there is a misunderstanding of what is being proposed. To varying degrees private colleges provide to all students but those from the wealthiest circumstances a reduction in the list price tuition. This discount is not a loan but a discount. The degree of the discount is informed by the numbers provided by FAFSA who determines each student’s ability to pay. It does not seem like that the change will alter the student’s financial obligation. The change is likely, as the article points out, to attract more interest because fewer prospects will dismiss Concordia as a possibility out of hand due to the high list price of tuition.And if you can get more people to look, you can get more to buy.

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