This past Monday, you may have received an email informing you of the roughly six percent increase in tuition for returning students—raising the comprehensive fee to $54,534 up from this year’s $51,470.
Though it seems steep, CC administrators find the tuition hike both appropriate and competitive with peer institutions.
The Board of Trustees voted overwhelmingly in favor of the tuition hike.
“Our applications are up again this year, after a significant increase in applications last year,” President Jill Tiefenthaler said. “Students and families who are interested in CC are attracted to quality and value, not just price.”
For students who will be seniors next year, tuition will have risen nearly 15 percent during their career at CC.
“My take is that it’s outrageous that these are the prices,” said Ofer Ben-Amots, a music professor. “It’s just outrageous that you have to pay so much. I do know they think very carefully before they raise it though.”
Among its peer schools, such as Colgate, Oberlin, and Occidental, CC is actually far below the trend of tuition spikes. CC’s cumulative tuition increase for the past five years is at 21.2 percent as compared to the peer school median of 24 percent.
The spike won’t be hitting everyone equally, however.
The majority of the tuition spike, which will be paid for by full-paying students, will go to increasing financial aid to those who need it and, in turn, diversity on campus.
“I see it in the sense of corrective socialism,” Ben-Amots said. “They take more from some so that they can give to others.”
While Student Body President Nathan Lee isn’t too excited about the increase, he still approves of the administration overall.
“Though our individual viewpoints on the matter do not match up perfectly, we all have been pleased with the leadership that President Tiefenthaler has shown thus far at Colorado College,” Lee said.
“…The biggest chunks of the increase will go to financial aid (a seven percent increase in the budget), faculty and staff compensation (a three percent increase), and enhancements to the student experience including money for career services and internships, increases in student research fellowships and support for field and international trips,” President Tiefenthaler said.
Vice President for Enrollment Mark Hatch also sees the price flux as an opportunity to increase prospective student interest.
“All of the conversations I have been a part of the last few months, student access and retention have received appropriate attention,” Hatch said. “Many of these conversations have been led by President Tiefenthaler and she has an extraordinary commitment to student financial aid.”
“The net price calculator on our website is a great way for potential applicants to get an idea of what their net price would be if they attended CC,” President Tiefenthaler said.
Some students don’t agree with the reasoning of the increase.
“I don’t agree with the redistribution of wealth if all this money is going to financial aid,” said CC freshman Alan Hurbi. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
In addition to primarily funding financial aid, the money will go to paying staff competitive salaries.
“The very first sentence of our mission statement is ‘to provide the finest liberal arts education in the country,’ and the board takes that seriously,” said Student Trustee Samantha Barlow, who voted in favor of the tuition raise.
Part of providing the “finest liberal arts education” is hiring the best teachers. Recently, teachers have been underpaid as compared to salaries of peer schools.
In addition, Barlow defines diversity as another facet of the liberal arts education.
Students like Barlow represented the student body in the decision, and students Stanley Sigalov and Matt Nadel, both members of the Budget Committee, worked early in the process in creating a proposal for the tuition increase.
CC remains committed to increasing diversity and during the economic recession several years back, CC experimented with increasing its student body to make up the revenue difference.
“One of the easiest solutions is to bring in another ten students, but they [the administration] don’t do that because they want to keep small classes. We are short on classrooms. We need more classrooms,” Professor Ben-Amots said.
“From a trustee’s perspective, it’s really about trying to balance what the college wants to do: where to invest, where to spend, and where to cut back,” said Amy Louis, Chair of the Budget, Buildings, and Grounds Committee. “You make trade-offs just as you would in any organization.”
Though the six percent spike may come as a shock to some, it has been relatively overdue.
“I think one of things we did as a Board when the economic downturn hit is we hit the budget pretty hard, and we have been very slow to put anything back,” Louis said. “There are some things we had to invest in this year—some infrastructure things and the new fitness center. I’m the parent of a student at CC so I take the budget doubly seriously.”
Some see the focus on the enhancing of the sports facilities, such as the El Pomar Center, as a possible inclination to mismatched emphasis.
“We never know what’s the priority,” Professor Ben-Amots said. “The classrooms are filled. Education in many ways is like an industry in this country; the prices just go up and up.”
The money from the increased tuition, aside from operating costs, actually has nearly nothing to do with El Pomar. Instead, the money will increase “financial aid, salary for faculty and staff, and $500,000 will be set aside to a ‘student experience’ fund,” VP for Finance Robert Moore said.
The “student experience” fund consists of money to help with fees associated with studying abroad or special programs. In addition, the fund will go to research opportunities and help with internships.
There is also $250,000 set aside for sustainability investments.
What if you can’t make the payments for the new tuition?
“We have a process in place for students to have their financial aid packages reevaluated. Students who have questions should contact the Financial Aid Office,” President Tiefenthaler said.
“Is the value received worth the increase in cost? We determined the answer was ‘Yes’,” Moore said.
Deputy News Editor