Central College reduces annual tuition to $18,600

Central College held a press conference on Sept. 10 to reveal new annual tuition costs beginning in fall 2020. Pictured from left to right are Central College President Mark Putnam, Professor of Psychology and Mark and Kay DeCook Endowed Chair in Character and Leadership Development Keith Jones, Student Body President and student trustee Anne Williamson (class of 2020) and student leader and student trustee Parker Majerus (class of 2020).

Central College has revealed reduced annual tuition of $18,600 for fall 2020.

The college’s dedication to affordable pricing is the first such initiative of its scale in the state. With scholarships, the college’s price is identical to Iowa’s public universities, officials at the school said.

No current Central student will pay more in 2020-2021 than they do in 2019-2020, and prospective students can apply without being discouraged by a high published tuition rate. The price for room and board remains the same at $10,280.

Before the tuition reduction, students at the college were paying approximately $48,000 per year, including room and board. Now, students will be paying approximately $28,880 per year, which also includes room and board.

“We’d love to see a situation in which we can optimize the number of students coming to the college,” said Central College President Mark Putnam. “The success of this tuition model does not depend on increasing enrollment, however. It will be successful by maintaining current enrollment.”

After a mother of a student addressed Putnam about high tuition costs last winter, it left a significant impression on him.

“I was caught in this moment where on one hand, in my mind I was thinking, ‘You are absolutely right,’” but could only say ‘We’re doing all we can.’ That moment for me has informed how we think about this decision,” said Putnam.

The price change offers transparency to what students and families actually pay. Previously, tuition at the college was offset with high financial aid and scholarships. Virtually all students paid far less than the published price, a practice used by nearly all colleges and universities.

The college will continue to offer academic programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), pre-professional programs in health care and dozens of hallmark programs such as psychology, business and education as well as historic strengths in social sciences, arts and humanities.

“This is part of Central’s history, in that we have a long legacy of innovation and being creative,” said Putnam. “Central’s legacy is one of thinking creatively and openly … I think my coming in here was driven by that, that sense that there’s a great opportunity that is always present for us.”

Emily Hawk can be reached at ehawk@pellachronicle.com or by calling the newsroom at 641-628-3882.

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