Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman Sets Lowest Tuition Increase in a Decade

Whitman recently sent out letters to parents, announcing that tuition is set for $43,150 for the 2013-2014 academic year. This marks an increase of 3.25 percent, the lowest increase in the past decade, down from last year’s increase of 4 percent.

This increase is consistent with tuition increases at similar institutions, if not slightly smaller. Carleton College, for example, increased its tuition 3.8 percent in the past year, and Oberlin saw an increase of 3.9 percent. On the higher end of the scale, Reed College increased tuition by 7.5 percent.

Current trends also show that tuition increases have been gradually less drastic in recent years for institutions of higher education. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the median tuition increase for other Washington nonprofit private four-year institutions was 4.4 percent in 2011. Whitman’s 2011 increase was 4.5 percent.

Within a struggling economy, small increases can have a large impact on families with less income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate for March was 7.6 percent, better than the low point of 10 percent in October 2009, but still struggling to recover to the average annual rate of 5.1 percent between 2003 and 2007.

Whitman’s Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Peter Harvey said that the Board of Trustees hoped to take the state of the economy into account when proposing the increase.

“Whitman was intentionally trying to keep the increase lower, given the difficult economic times and the inability of many families to pay,” said Harvey.

Such limited tuition growth was partially possible because of fundraising revenue from the Now is the Time campaign. Additionally, the College’s endowment is generating more income than it has in previous years as it recovers from the 2008 economic downturn. In 2013, it should generate 5 percent more than it did in 2012.

According to The College Board, the national average cost of tuition and fees increased by 2.4 percent for private nonprofit four-year colleges and 5.2 percent for public four-year colleges in 2012. After the economic downturn in 2008, the national average increases in the cost of tuition and fees were 5.9 percent for private nonprofit four-year institutions and 9.2 percent for public four-year institutions.

Though glad that tuition growth wasn’t extreme, some parents would have liked to see more information in the letter sent out by the college to inform those financially responsible for tuition.

“We’re pretty pleased, but surprised that they didn’t include the percentage [increase] in the letter. That’s kind of a benchmark people use when looking at tuition… It’s not that they were trying to be covert, but it would have been more transparent if they had included that information,” said Julie Lombardo, mother of a Whitman junior.

Karah Kemmerly contributed reporting to this article.

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