Here at Pacific Rim Christian University, we believe in keeping the tuition at an affordable level. Our tuition is less than one third the national average for a private university, and less than our local state university.
We know that the cost of college keeps going up. According to one source, since 1978 the price of college in the United States has increased in absolute dollars by 1120 percent, more than any other good or service in the U.S. economy. The cost of college has increased faster than personal income and financial aid.
How did that happen? History provides us some clues. Early medieval universities consisted of masters and their students. They could meet in churches, taverns or public halls. The focus was on teaching and the relationship between the master and the students.
Early American colleges like Harvard and Yale were established by congregations and churches to educate clergy and community leaders. For the first one hundred fifty years, most colleges in America were small, with between fifty and one hundred fifty students. The colleges had few buildings, and instructors were part-time ministers or medical doctors. Overhead was low. The focus was still on teaching and the relationship between the teacher and the students.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, however, things changed. Science rose to prominence, and the German research university was imported into America in the form of the graduate school. Universities hired more and more faculty to conduct research instead of teaching.
Meanwhile, intercollegiate athletics were launched—baseball, basketball, football—largely replacing literary debating societies. Universities built huge athletic complexes, and spent a lot of money on sports. As universities grew, they also hired more administrators. Huge administration buildings were built. The cost of facilities and personnel continued to rise.
All of these increased costs had little to do with classroom teaching and student learning.
According to the College Board, the average tuition of a four-year private college is $33,400 per year. The tuition here at Pacific Rim Christian University is $9,960, less than one third the national average.
How do we make higher education so accessible? We do it by focusing on teaching and learning, just like the first universities centuries ago. We keep it simple. We don’t own any buildings. We share space with a church, and we rent space in a warehouse across the street from the church. We don’t have an intercollegiate athletic program. We make use of the products of scholarly research, but we don’t conduct research. We’re a teaching institution.
We have great faculty, staff, and students, and they have access to classrooms, offices, a library, café, and places to worship. In short, we have what we need to be a strong Christian learning community. We save money on all the things we don’t need, and we pass the savings on to our students and their families.
Dr. Kent M. Keith