Concordia College recently dropped its yearly tuition by more than $15,000, a change that could help its athletic teams broaden their recruiting base.
Starting in the fall of 2021, Concordia’s tuition will fall from $42,750 to $27,500.
“What it does do is it opens up the door with families that might have shut the door with you,” said longtime Cobbers head football coach Terry Horan.
While Horan said the financial aid packages made that previous tuition figure more affordable than at first glance for a number of recruits, some wouldn’t give the school a look due to the initial sticker price.
“To see the price drop makes us all believe that we have a chance to get access to really talented recruits who maybe weren’t willing to look at Concordia in the past because of how much it appeared to cost in the beginning,” said Cobbers head men’s soccer coach Ben Schneweis. “Sticker shock was a hurdle and this allows that hurdle to disappear. Hopefully that yields conversations with more high-level recruits.”
Concordia also announced last week it would offer a “flex year” option to help students during the coronavirus pandemic. The option allows current students and those enrolling in the fall of 2021 two tuition-free semesters past their projected graduation date.
That could be beneficial for athletes who would like to return for an extra year of competition since the NCAA recently ruled all Division III athletes would not be charged a season of eligibility this school year due to the pandemic.
“I’m excited to see how the kids feel about the flex and see if we have some kids who are interested in exploring that option,” Horan said. “I think it’s a great tool for some of our kids who maybe want to get this year back.”
All Concordia’s fall sports, including football, were moved to the spring due to COVID-19. Horan said he didn’t anticipate too many of his current seniors would take advantage of the flex year since most have plans to graduate and move on with life after college. However, juniors, sophomores and freshmen in the program may be more apt to use the flex option to get an extra year of competition, Horan added.
Cobbers head women’s basketball Kim Wagers said her program currently has 22 athletes, including players for a junior varsity team. While she expects to keep the roster around that number, the lower tuition is expected to be an added recruiting tool.
“It definitely helps us generate more interest as far as getting more kids on campus, which always helps,” Wagers said.
Horan said the football team has 115 players on the roster. The locker room has 137 lockers so Horan wouldn’t want to have more than that number in the program. Horan added that the football program has 120 athletes signed up for visits before January. That number of visits usually isn't reached until March during past years.
“Kids want to make decisions earlier,” Horan said due to COVID-19. “You can feel it.”
Horan applauded the school’s administration for thinking “outside the box” in changing the tuition structure in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.
“It makes us more competitive in my opinion,” he said. “It’s the eye test and eyes are going to see this and it’s most definitely gotta help us. We lose out on kids that don’t even want to pursue. They rule us out right away thinking they can’t even afford us.”
Schneweis generally carries around 30 players on his roster, a number he doesn’t expect to change. However, he added the tuition reduction has created positive energy for Concordia and its athletic department.
“We can get over the affordability hurdle earlier because it’s a big worry for people right now and rightfully so,” Schneweis said. “We were as a group of coaches really excited about the change.”