Belmont Abbey College’s Affordable Private College Model

Belmont Abbey College announced the Affordable Private College Model that will serve students better, shrink general administrative costs by $1 million annually and refocus fundraising dollars on student learning and success.

This bold step is the second in a series to make private education more affordable and accessible. The first, a 33% tuition reduction in 2013, made Belmont Abbey College one of the most reasonably-priced private colleges or universities in the country. The new model takes effect in 2014-2015 with the goal of operating on tuition alone within the next three years.

Press Release

Download the official press release from Belmont Abbey College.

FAQ About This New Model

Belmont Abbey College is announcing the Affordable Private College Model that will serve students better, shrink general administrative costs by $1 million annually and refocus fundraising dollars on student learning and success.
For most small, private colleges there is a “gap” between operational costs and tuition revenue. In the past, the only way to close that gap was to raise tuition or rely on endowment earnings or annual donations. With this new model, we’ve found ways to run the College more efficiently, serve our students better and eliminate the gap so fundraising dollars can be invested in student learning and success.
As a national leader in higher education financial reform, Belmont Abbey College is committed to making a private college education more affordable and accessible. This bold move is the second in a series of efforts to do so. The first was a tuition reduction by 33% last year. The ever widening divide between the rising cost of tuition and what students can afford to pay — coupled with the sluggish economy — inspired us to find a way to ease the burden for our students and their families.
The president had been considering this approach for some time. Providentially, he received as a gift, the book, Mind the Gap, by Dr. Richard Soghoian, headmaster of Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York City. In it, Dr. Soghoian details the success of a similar model at this elite secondary school. A meeting with the headmaster and his staff was further confirmation to President Thierfelder that this model could work for a small, private college like Belmont Abbey.
Tuition does not cover the cost of operations for most colleges. Virtually all colleges must use their endowment earnings and/or annual donations from alumni, parents, students and friends to cover the gap.
Last year, Belmont Abbey reduced tuition by 33%. This new approach will enable the College to continue to hold tuition costs down and, over time, actually lower tuition and eliminate students’ need for state and federal financial aid.
The first major step is the creation of a new administrative organizational structure that will better serve our students through improved processes, enhanced systems and a cross-trained staff. Simultaneously we will launch a new self-service website designed to provide students an online resource for their administrative needs.
The efficiencies gained by the reorganization will result in the elimination of some administrative positions and the consolidation of others.
There have been no discussions or plans for additional administrative staff reductions.
Starting this fall, current students will see a significant improvement in levels of service. A new Student Services Hub will open on campus and serve as a single source for all administrative functions, including class registration, financial aid, bill payment and more. Also, a new website called The Hub will serve as an online student services portal and answer more than 200 frequently asked questions by directing students to step-by-step instructions, tutorials and videos.
Belmont Abbey College will phase in the Affordable Private College Model over the next three years. Annual fundraising efforts will continue at the same level as before with a gradual diminution of funding for operations until it is no longer needed. Once the Affordable Private College Model is fully in place, all fundraising will be used for positive, non-operational improvements to enhance student learning and success.
Fundraising will continue and focus on student learning and success with investments in areas like the development of new academic programs, increasing the number of scholarships and enhancing facilities and technology.
Like any new venture, the development of a new facility and a new way of serving our students will take time for full implementation. However, we fully anticipate momentum to grow over time. Our students will see a raised level of service as early as Fall 2014.