Opening Doors

How the Frozen Tuition Rates Have Shaped Redeemer

One glance at the timeline of Redeemer’s history on the wall across from the auditorium makes it evident that the last few years have seen significant change and growth for our institution. Much of God’s provision that made it possible for Redeemer’s expansion—not purely in enrollment rates but also in facilities, housing options, degree programs, and even a rebranding—can be seen in the generosity of countless donors. 

Four years ago, Redeemer University announced a tuition reduction rate of 42% for the following Fall semester. This reduction was the result of five years of funding that amassed a total of $11 million from various generous donors. Consequently, tuition dropped from the previous rate of $16,992 to $9,800, saving Redeemer students $7,192 per year. 

Marnie Hoogkamp from the financial aid department shared some of the story behind this pivotal moment in Redeemer’s story.

“It was very exciting!” Hoogkamp said. “I was coming back from a vacation, and I got a call to go to my director’s office where he told me. There was almost a sense of relief. In financial aid, you are always working with students who are struggling to pay for university; to have such a large donation led to such a sense of excitement.”

The reduction has not applied universally to every student, however. Across the board, all tuition rates could not increase during that first year, but now, “International students and Bachelor of Education students are paying the same tuition rate [as before the reduction was ever implemented],” she continued, “which is higher than the undergraduate domestic student tuition rates. [We recognize] that they have a greater financial cost to study here at Redeemer.

“As great as the news about tuition reduction is, there is still recognition that not everyone is benefitting from that—especially in our office as we try to help [all] students figure out how to pay for university. There are likely quite a few students who may feel like it’s unfair or not equitable; I totally understand and acknowledge that. Our job is just trying to work with them to get the funding they need to cover those higher costs.”

For the majority of students, the reduction has also helped in stretching other sources of aid even further. Previously, students may have maxed out their OSAP funding and still been unable to make ends meet with the $16,000 of tuition. With lower rates, students have been able to use other aid they receive to account for all of their fees as students. 

What has this actually done for the larger body of Redeemer? Towards the beginning of the implementation of this donation, Redeemer had 789 students enrolled heading into the Fall of 2019. Three years later, the fall of 2021 saw an increase to 1,014 registered students. The tuition reduction has opened the door for more students to join the Redeemer community that otherwise would not be able to. As the 2019 Resound story announcing the reduction put it, “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.”

The tuition fee would be frozen for four years, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. Currently, we are in the final year of frozen tuition, so it is expected that rates will increase slowly beginning next year. Upon discussing with students on campus, it is evident that many are unsure as to how this will actually play out in our fees. 

“We’ve been able to reset our tuition structure so that we can sustain it moving forward,” Hoogkamp assured. “The expectation is that we won’t ever have to go back to the rates that we were charging before. We hope to maintain it with small, slight increases every year. That way we can continue to draw students to Redeemer who might not have been able to afford previously. That was the ultimate goal, to make Christian post-secondary education more affordable for more students.”

“You also have to factor in cost of living, inflation,” Hoogkamp continued. “The increase in tuition will not be large; the administration will do as much as we can to keep it as low as possible.”

With only one more school year left of the frozen tuition rates, it is important that students be made aware of how tuition rates will be changing in the coming years, as well as comforted that Redeemer’s Christian education will remain more accessible for the foreseeable future.