CU Finances Pt. 4 — Miscellany

Sorry for the delay, but here’s the last post in our series on the financial health of Cedarville University. In this last segment I simply want to relay some miscellaneous stuff I came across that didn’t fit really well elsewhere.

  • In case you’re curious, when Cedarville went Baptist in 1953, tuition was $58/hr; when my dad enrolled it was $163; by the time I got in it was $314 and by the time I got out it was $656/hr.
  • The number of CU employees paid more than a $50k salary has steadily increased in recent years, with a total of 207 in ’06-’07.
  • Anybody familiar with Cedarville knows we’ve had some legal trouble recently, which is clearly represented on the tax forms: we paid $38k in 2003, but it quickly escalates to almost $305k by ’06-’07. The bulk of that goes to CU’s lead attorney David Haffey, who makes $200k.
  • Dr. Brown’s salary increases the longer his tenure (understandably), and in ’06-’07 was at almost $228k including benefits & expense account. This is below average for our sister schools, which usually paid $242k+ to their president. The best-paid was Wheaton’s ($498k) followed by Biola ($404k); worst was Grace ($85k) and then BBC ($143k).
  • I couldn’t find good information on faculty salaries, but for most of the schools it was possible to determine the highest paid professors. Average salary for the top earner was $133k; CU’s made $112k (Dr. Irene Alyn). I’d imagine Wheaton pays pretty generously, but I couldn’t get numbers — the most I did find was from Masters, whose top earner made a bit over $205k.
  • I don’t know why, but our contract with Pioneer Caterers (ie, Chuck’s) spiked upward sharply after the ’02-’03 year — it went from $1.77M to $3.09M, and it’s hovered in this three-million-ish range ever since.
Too bad none of this made it into Cedars. If it were all cleaned up, edited, and graphed/charted out nicely it could’ve made for a great spread. I imagine the new incarnation of Cedars (coming 2010) will revert to its modus operandi from the 20th century — ie, all safe news and “omg isn’t teh opposite sex confusing?!” type editorials. Shame.

CU Finances Pt. 2 — Financial Aid

It seems counter-intuitive that in a bad recession Cedarville University would deliberately increase the cost of attendance so dramatically. Yet their explanation for this is that more money will be diverted to financial aid to ease the burden of needy students. Their already-established goal is to increase aid by 20% every year, though since ’02-’03 they’ve only averaged a 16.4% yearly increase. But things may be looking up: in ’07-’08 (the last years I could find numbers for), aid was increased almost 22% over the previous year, coming out to $13.1M in total. CU is proud of this, and also touts the increase in aid as “over 100% in the last 5 years.” This, of course, depends on which five they’re counting & whether or not they adjusted for inflation. Unadjusted, they hit this number almost any way you slice it. However, if properly adjusted then it could be a different story: if they’re using numbers from ’07-’08, then in the last 5 years financial aid only increased 85.9%. Of course, it’s not unreasonable to assume they have the ’08-’09 numbers, on which I can only speculate. In order for their claim to be true however, they would need a 21% increase which — as mentioned above — is above what they’ve typically done. So it’s possible, and we can certainly hope it’s true.

Historically, however, Cedarville has not been known as a FinAid-friendly school. Among 53 CCCU schools surveyed by Noel-Levitz, CU ranked dead last on the category “Adequate financial aid is available for most students.”

The last school year for which tax forms are available (the non-profit 990’s) is 2006-2007, so we can do a comparative analysis for that year. CU has a list of “sister schools” that it routinely compares itself to; I analyzed 15 of these, plus I also added John Brown University. As always, these numbers are in 2009 dollars (click to enlarge):

For an average student, between 24.6-25.9% (mean/median) of the cost of attendence is mitigated by financial aid — CU’s reputation is warranted given its average of 15.65%. However, CU’s costs are slightly below the average of $28.1/$26.7k. The numbers for Grace College in Indiana certainly jump out, where costs are below par but where you’ll get virtually no financial assistance. Part of the reason for this is that the school itself is not financially healthy — as you’ll see in our next installment, it’s one of only two colleges on this list which did not turn a profit in ’06-’07… Can you guess the other one?