Costly Curry; Tuition Set to Increase by 2.9%

BY MATTHEW WEDDLETON // MARCH 30, 2016 //

You hear it all the time, “College is so expensive!” Unfortunately for Curry students, tuition is set to increase by 2.9% for the 2016-2017 academic year.

As a private institution, Curry College is listed among top 30 “Most Expensive Colleges in Massachusetts.” For the upcoming academic year, the total cost for residents living on campus will be $51,815. This total does not take into account the PAL Program, as well as indirect costs that could bring students total bill to well over $60,000 per year.

According to David Nerenberg, interim chief financial officer and director of finance at Curry College, “The costs of running an institution of higher education, particularly in New England, grow faster than the rate of inflation.”

Curry College’s website states that 70% of students receive financial aid. However, Nerenberg believes the number of students who receive some form of financial aid has risen to about 94%.

Sophomore business management major Renata Pinto said, “The price of tuition already draws current students away from Curry, and with the raise it will not only draw more current students away, but incoming students as well.”

With the increase of tuition for the upcoming year, Pinto said she is questioning whether or not to return to Curry in the fall.

“Although Curry is a great school academically, I have already thought about transferring many times, and with the raise scheduled for next school year it brings up a concern about continuing my education here,” she said.

In the 2015-2016 academic year, the average cost of tuition for private colleges across the country was said to be at $32,405 according to College Board. Nonetheless, students at Curry will be expected to pay $35,740 for tuition alone, which is above this past year’s national average.

If the inflation rate of tuition went up 2.9% every year for the next 15 years, Curry students would be expected to pay slightly over $50,000 for tuition alone.

“There are many external environmental factors that can vary significantly each year, such as health insurance and energy costs, which preclude predicting tuition changes years in advance,” said Nerenberg.

A report by the Boston Business Journal said that the total operating revenue at Curry declined by about $1 million to $86.6 million in fiscal 2015. According to Nerenberg, 89% of Curry’s operating revenue comes from student tuition, room & board, and other fees.

Nerenberg said that Curry is continuing to take significant steps to contain its expenses, as well as provide increased institutional financial aid to students.

When is the Price Right?

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.

PHOTO BY 401kcalculator.org
PHOTO BY 401kcalculator.org

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.

Tuition to Rise…Yet Again

BY JACKSON CARMUSIN // MARCH 25, 2014 // 

When you’re paying $32,800 for one year of college tuition, adding $950 to the total doesn’t seem like much. But now think about what you could do with $950.

That’s the amount tuition will rise at Curry College next year. Fees are also increasing by $50, to $1,665. And for those living on campus, room and board will go up by $200, to $13,510, for a total of $48,925.

PAL students are looking at additional increases, such as $200—from $6,540 to $6,740—for credit-bearing services. Additionally, the PAL support services fee will go up $100. Curry’s website accounts for additional expenses, such as transportation and books.

According to some students, the annual increases are tough to stomach.

“While I’m not paying, my parents are, I think it’s ridiculous that we’re paying more and more,” said senior communication major Andrew Dilworth.

According to sophomore English major Mary Thomas: “College is supposed to prepare us for life, but it just hurried us into debt.”

In 2012, the average debt load of college graduates that year was $29,400, reports the Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt. And that’s just among those who graduated; the figures don’t include students who dropped out or were dismissed.

Curry is hardly unusual when it comes to the cost of attending a private college in New England. Similarly sized schools that are categorized as “somewhat selective” in their student acceptance rates, according to The College Board, cost the same as Curry. For example, Stonehill College (tuition of $36,160 in 2013-14), Salve Regina University ($34,950) and Regis College ($34,380) are all slightly more than Curry.

Cost of Attendance Continues to Climb

BY NICK IRONSIDE // NOV. 7, 2012 //

Knowledge might be power, but it still comes at a cost. Here at Curry, that cost has increased by an average of $1,300 a year over the last four years alone.

Not counting the cost of PAL, which can run upward of $10,000 a year, tuition, fees, room and board now total $46,225 a year for traditional undergraduates. // STOCKVAULT.NET PHOTO //

In all, the cost of attendance for a full-time residential student—excluding PAL and before taking into account residence hall damage fees—has shot up nearly $5,500 in the past four years. This year alone, tuition has increased $1,200, while room and board has increased $530.71. Not counting the cost of PAL, which can run upward of $10,000 a year, tuition, fees, room and board now total $46,225 a year for traditional undergraduates. The price for commuter students is $33,465.

And according to Curry Chief Financial Officer Rich Sullivan, the rate and size of increases aren’t likely to slow anytime soon.

“I would expect that the higher education industry, which includes Curry, will have modest increases in the future,” said Sullivan. “It’s a very competitive environment. There’s a general wish to raise the quality of the college, both inside and outside the classroom. There has been continuous improvement, and we want to raise the bar.”

Even continuing education students have seen costs go up. Through the summer of 2011, continuing education students paid $380 per credit for classes after 4 p.m. and on weekends. The college now charges $420 per credit.

Sullivan said the college has invested heavily in student financial aid, which has also increased in recent years. According to Sullivan, 87 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some form of aid from Curry. The “average total Curry grant/scholarship for those students receiving such aid is approximately $13,500,” Sullivan wrote in an email.

There are approximately 1,900 full-time undergraduates at Curry.

“We’re trying to work as efficiently as possible while being as effective as possible, too,” Sullivan said. “It’s very much a balancing act with the budget.”

But not every private college in America is raising its prices. In fact, several private colleges are cutting or freezing tuition. For example, Franklin Pierce University (Rindge, N.H.) is froze its tuition as of the fall of 2012. Cabrini College (Radnor, Penn.) cut its tuition by 12.5 percent this academic year, and promised students tuition wouldn’t rise above $30,000 before 2015. Concordia University (St. Paul, Minn.) plans to cut its undergraduate tuition by $10,000, and the University of the South (Sewanee, Tenn.), also known as Sewanee, cut its tuition by 10 percent last fall and promised to keep the tuition unchanged during the next four years for freshmen entering this fall.

Despite the rising costs at Curry, some students said they are largely pleased with how the college is spending its money. “I think Curry’s doing a decent job with budgeting,” said junior communication major Sam D’Arrigo. “However, I think money could be put toward things that are better for the college. Working on some of the dorms, broadening the food horizons…things such as those are necessary to work on.”

Freshman Crispin Arkinstall, an undecided major, thinks the college is already too expensive and that Curry needs to cap tuition.

“It’s hard to see my family sacrificing so much for me to come to college already, and raising the tuition fee will be an even bigger struggle for my family,” he said.

A recent report by the Institute for College Access & Success, a California-based nonprofit, found that Curry students graduated with an average of about $41,000 in debt, the third-highest debt load among students from Massachusetts private colleges and universities.

Curry Student Government Association President Corey Theodore said his organization wasn’t planning on looking into the rising costs of attending Curry, but would if students wanted it to.

“If there’s enough student interest, we’ll act on anything the students want,” said Theodore. “It’s not up to us. If students are upset about it, they should come forth.”