Author: Sam Byrne
The Board of Trustees approved the decision to raise tuition for the 2012-2013 academic year by a lesser percentage than in past years at their annual January meeting. The administration chose to implement a tuition hike to maintain the college’s competitive standards among comparable schools but decided on a less significant increase to accommodate the financial concerns of students and families.
“With the strains on family budgets uppermost on our minds, we have chosen to reverse the recent trend on tuition increase by making a concerted effort to constrain costs,” President Veitch announced in his Board of Trustees Meeting Report, which he emailed to all students, faculty and staff early last week.
The President is currently in the process of writing a letter to returning students’ families, including the details of the revised tuition, which he will send in the coming weeks according to Executive Assistant to the President Rebecca Stolz.
Last year, the college raised the tuition by 5 percent and room and board by 5.5 percent. The increase for the 2012-13 academic year will mark the first time in five years that the college has lowered the annual tuition hike from 5 percent.
A current full time student of the college with a meal plan and residential housing pays over $58,000, including fees. Even with the approved lesser tuition increase, the total cost to attend Occidental is likely to exceed $60,000.
“I just want to know where the money is going towards. I think it’s unrealistic for them to be asking for this money when the school seems to have an abundance,” psychology major Abby Chin-Martin (sophomore) said, citing the fact that the college has already devoted a significant budget to nonacademic expenditures such as erecting new buildings and installing solar panels.
“I understand that they want to expand and make the school more appealing, but it’s just common sense that you don’t do these things unless you have the money, and it’s unfair to be making us pay for it when we don’t have the money.”
Pomona College, in comparison, has increased tuition and fees each year by an average of 3.7 percent since the 2008-2009 school year and will release the increase rate for next year in March. Other schools have promised not to raise expenses at all, such as the University of Texas at Arlington, while some colleges have vowed to decrease tuition costs, including Peace College in North Carolina with more than a 7 percent tuition reduction.
Although the exact tuition increase percentage has not been released to families, the Financial Aid Office has been working with the administration on finalizing the fees and has began reworking financial aid packages.
“While we have not yet begun to determine financial aid packages for 2012-2013 . . . we have begun our work on estimating aid awards for entering students,” Director of Financial Aid Maureen McRae said, ensuring that the administration will take the tuition change into consideration when calculating the amount of aid each student requires.
“I think the financial aid at Oxy is so substantial that [the school] would feel obligated to raise the tuition,” Critical Theory and Social Justice Major Caroline Szweda (sophomore) said, optimistic that the tuition increases will not negatively impact the amount of aid offered to students.
“It’s unfair if this affects our financial aid,” Chin-Martin said. “But I don’t think that the administration is being malicious . . . I don’t think they’re in it for the money, but they’ve got to get things straightened out.”
Despite students’ worries about the rising tuition fees, the increase remains less drastic than that of the University of California system. The California State University’s Board of Trustees voted in November to increase tuition by over 9 percent, following an 8 percent increase from last year—a path Occidental College does not intend to follow.
“[We will] lower the rate of increase in the coming years,” President Veitch said in the Board of Trustees Meeting Report.
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