For the coming academic year, the Board of Trustees increased tuition by 3.6 percent. The total cost of attendance is now $62,820. This increase is consistent with previous years—last year, tuition also increased by 3.6 percent for the 2014-15 school year. Nationally, the average increase in tuition for four-year private universities last year was 3.7 percent, according to the College Board.
In accordance to the increase in tuition, Boston College increased financial aid allocation by 5.9 percent to a total of $109.6 million. As the cost of higher education grows increasingly prohibitive, it is heartening that the University is not raising the sticker price of attendance without some consideration of the needs of students on financial aid.
Although the University insists that efforts are being made to keep the cost of attendance from rising recklessly and to maximize the efficiency of tuition, students are largely still kept in the dark as to why the costs continue to rise. Inflation in 2014 was just 0.8 percent, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and fuel prices have dropped $1.092 per gallon from one year ago, per the U.S. Energy Administration.
It is clearly not just the rising costs of living that have increased tuition—at BC and other schools nationwide—to levels far outpaced the growth of the economy as a whole. The University ought to be more transparent with why tuition is increasing—were more faculty members hired, or is BC simply trying to keep up with tuitions at other colleges and universities? Perhaps there is a fear that if tuition drags behind comparable institutions, BC will not be regarded as highly. A higher price could serve to drive people away, however, particularly lower income students not aware of the change in financial aid. For many applying to schools, the sticker price of four years of education can be enough of a deterrent, even if this is not the price they would ultimately have to pay.
It is not clear how the economy can sustain the extraordinary increases in the price of higher education. Until these growth rates fall more closely in line with the expansion of the economy as a whole, universities are just further setting themselves up for devastation when the higher education bubble collapses.
Featured Image by Alex Gaynor / Heights Photo