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Student charges explained

February 20, 2015

Starting today, returning students’ families will receive a letter from the office of the president announcing new tuition changes for the coming year. The changes include a three percent increase in tuition and a 3.4 percent increase, or $1,410, for total annual cost. The hike increases the standard annual cost to $42,260 for next year.

While an increase in costs sounds like bad news at face value, the tuition increase is the lowest it has been in at least eight years, with the total annual cost also reaching one of its lowest during that time frame.

“It is significantly lower than just about any other private liberal arts college is going to go up,” said President Clarence Wyatt.

Previous tuition changes have reached between six and nine percent some years and total charge increases ranged between five and eight percent.

Part of the total annual cost change comes from a rise in room and board packages. Newer halls located on the Sixth Street will all be one charge and all other halls (Ninth Street dorms, Graham, Fulton) will be one charge. Only McMichael Residence Hall’s price will stay the same.

“What we’re trying to do is standardize our room and board charges, and room to room recognize the difference in the halls, and have that reflect in the charge,” said Richard Marshall, chief financial officer.

Board, or meal plans, will also increase to $1,750 per semester and are also standardized to give students more options. Previously, students had six meal plan options, only three of which allowed for different amounts of meals-per-week and flex dollars. Marshall, along with Vice President of Student Life Jacquelyn Condon, decided to cut two of the meal plan options because of low enrollment based on statistics provided by Aramark.

“With respect to board, we’re trying to standardize, streamline and reduce,” Marshall said.

The new plans are the same price and include a 21-meal option, 14-meal and 10-meal options but also a 19-meal option, which the college has never had before. Flex dollars will increase substantially for all plans.

“I have never been at an institution where there wasn’t a 19-meal plan,” said Marshall, who has been involved in academia since the 1960s. “19 meals a week gives you three meals Monday through Friday and two on Saturday and Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see how students react to it, whether it’s a popular option or not a few years down the line.”

Another new addition is an $850 “block plan” option for commuter students.

A handful of students from the student senate met with Marshall and Condon and gave positive feedback on the changes.

While Wyatt cautioned against making promises, he projected that future increases will stay in the three-percent rage.

Part of the reason of the drop in percentage rates came because of the “echo of the baby boom,” the period spanning from the late 1990s to the early 2010s when large numbers of children of baby boomers entered college and many institutions used the abundance of applicants as an excuse to raise prices at large rates.

“Number one, the market won’t bear that anymore,” Wyatt said. “Number two, taking tuition fees that much every year…it doesn’t feel right. It’s not a defensible position. Number three, you can’t build the future of an institution on big increases in tuition and fees every year. You’ve got adjust yourself to what is right and what the market will bear.”

The college’s financial aid program, which Wyatt said that objective observers identify as generous for a college of Monmouth’s size, will stay “on pace.”

“We will always be a place of high opportunity, but the only way we can really maintain that commitment is enhance the commitment to being a place of high achievement and high quality, and so there is a balancing act that you want to achieve (with finances),” Wyatt said. “You’ve got to do it in a responsible and sustainable way. I am confident that the approach we’re taking here does all of those things.”

Cassie Burton
Courier Editor in Chief

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