August 2019: Tuition right-size and its impact on current students
Dear Albright colleagues –
As financial aid packages and bills continue to reach our current students, many have personal questions about the effect of our right-sized tuition model, especially in regard to how scholarship packages have decreased. I’m writing to you today to provide you with some information that I hope will be helpful.
In line with traditional higher education practices, Albright College had seen annual increases in its published price and this year, the total cost of tuition, room and board would have reached nearly $60,000. While often discounted with significant merit and need-based aid, this price did not align with our college’s commitment to educating students of academic promise for success in lives and careers. This mission was one of the driving forces that led to the decision in December to break from the high tuition/high discount model.
Our new right-sized tuition model reduces the intimidation of a high sticker price, allowing incoming students to focus on learning about the opportunities that an Albright education offers. This decision was made so that we could be more transparent about today’s higher education costs, be more attractive to prospective students and families, and work to reduce the growing tuition gap faced by sophomores, juniors and seniors.
For returning students, this shift has caused legitimate concern, as has been seen by other colleges that have rightsized their tuition. Students and families have had questions about how their packages have been calculated. And the simple answer is, it’s complicated. Each year, families submit their FAFSA form and the government calculates the expected family contribution (EFC) upon which financial aid packages are based. Factors like a change in income, loan eligibility, number of family members in college, selection for income verification, or even the timing of when the FAFSA was filed can all impact the amount of aid for which the family is eligible – and with a shift in pricing the whole process becomes even more complicated.
This summer, financial aid packages for returning students changed to reflect the new pricing schedule. In general, if nothing else changed and all federal and state deadlines were met (which is far less common than you might imagine), families would see a decrease in scholarships as well as an increase in cost. This increase is less of an increase than they would have seen with a 4% increase on Albright’s previous price. We knew going in that for the first few years, until all students came into Albright under the new pricing model, that there would be questions and concerns and that current students and families might struggle to understand their financial aid packages. While complicated, the bottom line is that returning students are paying less than they would have with Albright’s historical 4% tuition, fee, room and board increase.
Reading and understanding a financial aid package and the associated bill is complicated on the best of days – and we have had to manually modify the packages on the back end to ensure that students get every bit of federal, state and Albright aid for which they are eligible under the new model. The result, while optimized for the student from a financial standpoint, often requires individual counseling to understand.
Our financial aid office has been working very hard to have personal conversations with each and every family to help them understand their unique packages. While such individual conversations are time-consuming, they have been helping and the majority of families have been satisfied with the outcome of these conversations. If students come to you with concerns about their financial aid packages, please encourage them to contact Chris Hanlon, director of financial aid, at 610-921-7515 or send email to email@example.com for assistance.
I hope this information will help if students come to you with concerns. Thank you.
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ‘82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry