Senior News Writer
On Dec. 19, President Sarah Bolton sent an email detailing a rise in tuition, room and board for the 2020-21 school year. “After careful deliberation, the College’s Board of Trustees has determined that the com- prehensive fee … will increase by 3.89 percent. For a student with a typical board plan and a standard double room, this will mean an increase of $2,500, for a comprehensive fee of $66,750 before financial aid,” Bolton stated.
When asked about reasons for the rise in tuition, Bolton said, “Each year, the cost of maintaining our program increases somewhat. We try to give our staff and faculty cost- of-living raises. There are also some inevitable cost increases in health insurance, fuel, food and other contracts, and at times there are new student needs that we need to address (adding a counselor in the Wellness Center is one of the examples).”
Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer Jim Prince said, “Our annual tu- ition increase is generally calculated as a [percentage] increase versus a whole dollar increase. This year’s increase was 3.89 percent and is comparable to prior years’ percentage increases.”
Current students of the College had differing opinions about the rise in tuition. Annelisea Brand ’21, co-president of the First-Generation Student Organization stated, “The reality is that institutions increase prices every year on average about $2,000. I am not surprised about it because it is a fact and common thing. In order to try to alleviate the increase, government student loans give more money to students as they progress throughout the educational system to counteract increased prices. However, it never covers the full amount.”
Maggie Dougherty ’21 had a different opinion, stating, “Honestly, I do understand that the College needs to increase tuition costs for students each year — it sucks, but I get it. What I don’t get is why we don’t have a tuition lock, which many similar schools do. The concept of a tuition lock is that, while tuition might increase for incoming students, it will never increase for current students.”
Regarding a tuition lock, Prince responded, “It is true that some institutions have a tuition cap for incoming first year students. However, some of those same institutions have later reversed that practice, finding that it was not financially sustainable. The College of Wooster has evaluated this idea but found it would not be a model that covers the increasing costs of the quality education that is offered at Wooster.”
Some of students’ main complaints about the rise in tuition each year is that merit-based scholarships do not increase, staying consistent regardless of tuition rise.
Dana Kennedy, director of Financial Aid stated, “Merit scholarships are awarded upon admission to the College and are renewable for eight semesters. The benefit of this renewable award is that students and their families can plan for this award annually. If a student is eligible for need-based aid, they will reapply annually by filing the FAFSA.”
Prince added, “The College prioritizes need-based aid rath- er than merit aid. While recognizing the financial impact on all families is great, we feel that financial assistance needs to be directed to those with the highest needs.”
Bolton also commented on the difference between merit and need-based aid, saying, “We offer all the financial aid we possibly can, while maintaining our ability to pay for and run our educational program. Each year, we significantly increase the financial aid coming from the College for students who have demonstrated need, because of our commitment to access.” She echoed Prince’s comment of prioritizing individuals with the highest need.
“We understand that families have unexpected circumstances that change their ability to pay tuition,” Kennedy stated. “When those circumstances arise, like a job loss, or higher than typical medical expenses, we urge families to reach out to the Financial Aid Office. We can walk them through the process and explain what documentation we might need to review their request.”