Deeply committed to the future of Christian higher education, Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ont., is reducing its tuition by 42 percent for Canadian undergraduate students. The move will put the privately funded and publicly chartered university within reach for many more students, making it possible for them to participate in a Christ-centred university education on a spiritually vibrant campus.

Supported by $11 million in generous donor funding over five years, tuition for the coming fall will be set at $9,800, down $7,192 from the planned fall 2019 tuition rate of $16,992. Factoring in the entire new financial structure, undergraduate students at Redeemer stand to save thousands of dollars each year. The new rate will remain frozen until 2022.

“Affordability is a key concern for Redeemer, for its students, and for their families,” said president Dr. Robert J. Graham. “The cost of higher education has been rising faster than the rate of inflation and faster than family incomes. Students are taking on significant debt as a result. With this major shift in the pricing model, Redeemer will reach a sustainable enrollment level where students will be able to pursue their callings with less financial pressure. Thanks to very generous support and a long-term sustainability plan, students will be able to consider Christian university without facing double or triple the tuition.”

The commitment to affordability also helps Redeemer remain competitive in Ontario’s changing higher-education context. Even after significant debt reduction and minimal tuition increases, it’s been difficult for Redeemer to remain affordable.

In early January, the Ontario government announced that it is cutting tuition fees for college and university students by 10 percent and will freeze tuition for the following year. The eligibility threshold for families to qualify for the Ontario Student Assistance Program is also being changed, and a portion of the grant money in the former government’s free tuition plan will instead be offered through loans.

“We have been wrestling with how to make Christian university education affordable for some time,” said Dr. David Zietsma, vice president for external relations and enrollment at Redeemer. “Without this proactive new model, tuition would likely cross the $20,000 threshold in five or six years. Every year, hundreds of applicants to Redeemer end up going elsewhere, and for well over half of them financial viability is the number-one barrier.”

The lower tuition model is expected to lead to significant enrollment growth, providing the university with better economies of scale to innovate and to serve students more effectively. The university’s goal is to double undergraduate enrollment within five years, for a total enrollment of over 1,200 students. The rise in enrollment will lead to a sustainable financial model for the long term. This will allow Redeemer to continue offering tuition rates that are competitive with publicly funded universities in Ontario and across Canada.

The decision to reduce tuition only for Canadian undergraduate students recognizes that current tuition for international students at Redeemer is already lower than international student tuition rates at other Ontario universities.

Canadian students, however, were paying far more than their peers at other schools. Although international students will not see the same reduction, their tuition will remain frozen at $16,792 for the coming year. International students returning to Redeemer will also qualify for a special support bursary of more than $2,000.

Over the course of their degree, the support bursary will help international students transition to the new pricing structure.

Due to waiting lists and high demand, tuition in the post-undergraduate Bachelor of Education program is not being reduced. Redeemer will, however, freeze the program’s tuition at $16,792 for the coming academic year.

Along with a general tuition reduction, a new scholarship and financial aid model is being rolled out. Redeemer will continue to provide aid for the students who need it most and will offer scholarships for high-achieving students.

Along with scaling back tuition dramatically to under $10,000, Redeemer is reorganizing its price structure to better align with the marketplace. “For a long time, some costs were artificially lower in recognition of higher tuition,“ said Ed Bosveld, vice president of administration and finance. “The financial restructuring that Redeemer is undergoing allows for a more accurate reflection of the actual costs as they are seen across higher education.

As part of the new financial structure, housing is seeing a modest increase. Originally slated to be $5,500 for the 2019-20 academic year, housing will increase to $6,200. Even with the increase, Redeemer is still on the lower end of housing costs at Ontario post-secondary institutions.

Redeemer will also move to a per-course fee structure, which will be introduced in the coming weeks. Currently the price of tuition is the same for students whether they take four, five, or six courses per term. In the new model, a year of 10 three-credit courses will cost $9,800. For lab, studio, and production courses, which require additional space and equipment costs, a new fee of up to $180 will be added, in line with how pricing works elsewhere and in recognition that some programs simply require more resources to sustain. General student fees, projected at $621 for the 2019-20 academic year, will remain unchanged and are slightly less than at other institutions. Overall, Canadian undergraduates at Redeemer will save significantly in the new model.

“We are deeply grateful for the generous support that will make a difference in the lives of so many students,” said Graham. “We look forward to the positive impact that many more Redeemer graduates will have in their churches, places of work, and communities.”

This story was originally published in Redeemer University College's Resound: