Tuition at Sweet Briar Continues to Rise
By: Ashley Tomlin
The Office of the President recently released that there will be a 3.7% tuition increase for the 2011-2012 academic year for returning Sweet Briar students. The College has consistently had a tuition increase each year since 2007, as a result of rising operating costs such as employee health care, food, heating fuel, etc..
While some student’s feel the 3.7% increase is high, Sweet Briar has statistically had a lower increase than other universities. According to President Jo Ellen Parker, “For 2011-12, the average tuition increase in our four comparison sets was 6.5%, 4.6%, 4.8%, and 5.1%. In that year Sweet Briar’s tuition increase was 3%.” President Parker went on to further state that she feels the 3.7% tuition increase for the next academic year will again be statistically lower than other schools in Sweet Briar’s bracket. However, because colleges and universities are currently not allowed to exchange future or anticipated tuition increases or changes, Sweet Briar can only make comparisons on the cost of tuition on past data.
Despite tuition increases, President Parker has confirmed that the amount of financial aid will increase as well to help alleviate the rising cost of higher education, and that administration will “continually look at how we distribute that aid to help students in the most effective way.” Currently 98% of all Sweet Briar students’ receive some form of financial aid, a statistical high Sweet Briar hopes to maintain despite an increase in tuition.
With consistent increases in tuition over the past five years, some student’s have expressed concern about whether or not there is a maximum amount of tuition Sweet Briar is willing to charge students in the future. In regards to these concerns, President Parker had the following comment, “this is a question that the Board of Directors is beginning to examine. Over the next year, they will be studying various tuition models and considering a range of options that are being tried on other campuses. It’s extremely important that Sweet Briar remain affordable while at the same time receiving enough tuition revenue to support the programs and services that student’s value.”
Despite animosity from student’s regarding the increase for tuition, room, and board, the rising cost of higher education is a concern being felt by most colleges and universities at the time. The College is currently working to create financial stability for the institution and thus its students. President Parker made the following remark about creating financial stability for the College, “The single most important thing the College can do in this regard is meet the goals of the strategic plan – increase enrollment, increase philanthropy and endowment, and decrease expenditures. I hope students understand that there is a direct connection between these goals, financial stability for the institution, and affordability for students.”
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