BY COLE MCNANNA // DEC. 8, 2014 //
Colleges need money, plain and simple. Without it, they simply cannot stay in business.
At Curry College, student tuition, room/board, and fees account for approximately 94 percent of all earned revenue. Because the college is so reliant on these funds, rates have increased steadily over the years.
And according to Curry President Kenneth Quigley, students and their families should anticipate another rate hike for next year.
Over the past four years alone, tuition, room/board and fees have increased by $4,715, to $48,925. That doesn’t include the cost of books or additional academic support services such as PAL, which together would bring the price tag to more than $60,000 a year. According to the latest public tax record, from 2012, Curry generated slightly less than $100 million in revenue. Tuition, room/board and fees accounted for about $93.5 million of it.
“It is definitely getting expensive to go here,” said sophomore management major Brian Burke, who plays on the baseball team. However, Burke said he’s not inclined to transfer. “I like the campus a lot and the people I’ve met here. And, it would be tough to leave the [baseball] team behind,” he added.
A number of schools have frozen tuition or locked-in tuition rates for a class’ four years at the school. For example, Nichols College in Dudley, Mass., recently froze tuition for the second time in three years. College officials there have announced a 2.9% increase for the 2015-2016 academic year, but said tuition will not go up at all for the 2016-17 year..
Quigley said he would rather “spread the cost and work to keep the tuition increase down and get more financial aid out to students.” He also felt it would be unfair for one class to pay a different amount than the one behind or ahead of it.
The college has been awarding more financial aid — both need-based and academic merit-based — in recent years. Curry reports that “nearly 70 percent” of students receive financial aid in the form of scholarships, loans, grants and work-study assistance. However, there’s a big difference between a loan, which a student must pay back with interest, and a grant, which doesn’t need to be paid back.
According to the Curry website, students graduate from the college with an average loan debt of $42,356. That figure, among the highest in the state, doesn’t incorporate students who transferred out, dropped out, or failed out of Curry.
A 2014 report by the National Association of College and University Business Officers found that 87.7 percent of freshmen at private, nonprofit, four-year colleges received an institutional grant during the 2012-13 academic year. The report cited intense competition for new students, leading colleges to offer greater discount rates. Curry is among the schools that have offered more aid and tuition discounts in recent years.
Quigley also said Curry is working to be more selective in admissions, to “make the best academic and social community that we can.” However, in the fall of 2013, US News reported that Curry’s acceptance rate was 87.4 percent.
Taken together, it is a constant battle of generating revenue to pay for expenses, but at the risk of driving some students away because of the price.