The student discount rate at Taylor University has seen a slight drop compared to the steady increase from past years.
The discount rate of an institution can be described as money not given to the student as a scholarship, but money taken away from the full cost of tuition, resulting in a discount for students. Many students depend on institutional aid to be able to afford attending college. The steady incline of the discount rate can impact whether or not some students can receive the financial aid they need.
“The discount rate is unfunded institutional financial aid divided by the tuition cost,” Robert Sommers, executive director of financial aid, said.
Funded student discounts are from an endowed fund or a restricted gift from a donor. This can also include endowed scholarships with unfunded institutional money. Unfunded scholarship dollars are simply a percentage removed from the original price of tuition. There is no specific funding provided to Taylor for unfunded scholarships or grants.
“The discount rate includes academic and athletic scholarships, need-based grants and other support that students receive — so when the discount rate is higher, students pay less to attend Taylor,” Will Hagen, vice president for strategy and chief of staff, said.
Based on figures from the past four years, the student body discount rate has been steadily increasing from 46.6% during the 2019-20 school year to 52.0% during the 2022-23 school year.
“So that means in essence, students are benefiting more than in the past,” Sommers said.
This year, the freshman discount rate has dipped by 1%, but this has not affected the general student body discount rate. Typically, a financial aid package is awarded to a student when they first apply to Taylor. This financial aid package rarely changes throughout a student’s time at Taylor, unless circumstances change within a student’s life.
Staff from the financial aid office can also meet with students independently in order to address a student’s financial aid needs. If something occurs during the school year and a student is having trouble paying tuition, they can meet with a financial aid adviser who can adjust their aid package.
“I've always encouraged every student and family to file the FAFSA every year,” Sommers said. “While we have some students who may not qualify or don’t want to take out student loans, I always encourage people to file because you never know what may happen.”
Compared to similar institutions, Taylor’s student discount rate is slightly lower than average, Sommers said.
Affordability is important to the families of the Taylor community. It is a goal to continually evaluate the discount rate each year, to assist students in attending and remaining at Taylor. On average, the unfunded student body discount rate has increased by 1.8% each year.
“We have an internal goal for the discount rate of the incoming class and have been able to stay under that goal for the last couple of years,” Hagen said. “But within the dollars budgeted for financial aid, we work to deploy resources as strategically as possible as we work to draw strong, mission-appropriate students to Taylor.”
The reasoning for staying under projected financial aid spending is to make Taylor more affordable for incoming students and keep tuition costs down for new and returning students.
The goal is not to decrease financial aid spending but to ensure that Taylor consistently remains as affordable as possible for Taylor families and students, Hagen said.
One thing Sommers wants students to know is that they can always approach financial aid staff if their circumstances change in order to pursue options for more financial aid dollars.
“We can’t always do something when a student requests additional funding, but we can always evaluate options, and it never hurts to ask,” Sommers said.