Tuition increase lowest in past three years: Cost of attendance nears $74K

The tuition will increase by 3.75% for the upcoming academic year. (Photo by Hana Isihara ’17)

The newly announced tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year is a 3.75% increase, raising Lafayette’s cost of attendance to $73,926.

Next year’s tuition with the increase will come in at $56,556 compared to this year’s $54,512. Room and board prices are also increasing from $10,056 and $6,207 to $10,434 and $6,440 respectively.

When the current senior class started Lafayette in 2016, the cost of tuition was just around $48,000. With the most current increase, the class of 2020 has experience around a $2,000 increase in tuition each year. 

The increase is actually the lowest it has been in three years, President Alison Byerly said.

“It’s a little bit lower than the past couple years. We recognize that everyone is sensitive to the cost of attending Lafayette and the commitment it requires from families, so we tried to keep it a little lower this year,” Byerly said.

The lower increase, Byerly added, is a matter of budget adjustment, and that the college will need to adjust other parameters in the budget, however, the college will expect to maintain the same financial aid commitments that were previously built into the college’s plans. 

“The thing that’s tricky about tuition increase is we have to set that early so that it can be factored into admissions, publicizing it, and starting to work with students on what financial aid packages would be available,” Byerly said.

Announcing the tuition increase in the fall was not always a consideration for the college, according to Vice President of Finance and Administration Roger Demareski.

“It is really a response to federal government change and how families can apply for financial aid that we set tuition pretty early in the preceding year. We always try for the fall [board of trustees] meeting to, at least for the last three years,…set tuition so that students who are applying early decision can use the prior year’s tax return,” Demareski said.

The rest of the budget is not yet set, Byerly added, however, the impact of the lowered tuition increased will not be “dramatic.”

In the email sent out to parents, families and students, Byerly wrote that it is worth noting that even a student paying full tuition is being charged less than the per-student cost of the education he or she is receiving due to the fact that 20% of the college’s operating budget comes from “annual philanthropic giving” and the endowment fund. 

Demareski added that the tuition increase is set using the college’s long range financial model, the Union college survey which shows how Lafayette compares to other schools and assessing other financial needs of the college. In the past, Demareski added, the college did not have a long range model for financial aid, so decisions were made on a year by year basis.

“Now we can look and say okay, whatever decision we make this year, how does that affect the next 10 years,” Demareski said.

For the current 2019-20 academic year, Lafayette’s tuition is comparable to similar institutions in such as Lehigh University, at $54,790, and even comes in less than others including Bucknell University at $57,882.

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