Washington College Freezes Tuition

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The dominant theme of Washington College President Sheila Bair’s inaugural address in September was the need to find fresh approaches to controlling the cost of higher education and reducing the toll student debt takes on borrowers and their families. Today she announced a major step forward toward those goals – Washington College will institute a one-year tuition freeze for students enrolled during the Fall 2016 academic year.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.36.32 AMPresident Bair has made affordability and access major leadership priorities at Washington College. She says the freeze is just the beginning of the College’s exploration of new strategies and alternative funding models that will give certainty to families and protect them against unaffordable tuition hikes.

Total student debt in America stands at $1.3 trillion, with forty million Americans carrying at least one outstanding student loan. Student debt is now the second largest category of debt held in the US, second only to home mortgages. The average student debt load in America is $29,000, with the average borrower holding four loans, and the default rate is nearly 12% nationwide.

Increasing levels of college debt lead borrowers to put off commitments that mark the major life choices, Bair says, like saving for the future, buying homes and cars, and even starting families.

Financial aid is important for almost all Washington College students, especially first-generation college students whose families often need the most help in paying for college. Every year, Washington College provides more than $23 million in grants and scholarships. Ninety percent of students are awarded merit-based scholarships and/or need-based financial aid.

Tuition will be locked at its current rate of $42,844. The freeze does not include room & board and related costs of attendance, which are scheduled to increase by 2%, two-thirds lower than last year’s adjustment. The student fee is also being reduced by 1.1%.

“Washington College is committed to containing the cost of attendance without sacrificing educational quality or institutional adaptability,” she says. “This tuition freeze will provide some financial certainty to our current students and their families, and is just the start of our dedication to making a world-class liberal arts education an accessible dream for all seekers.”

The freeze is the latest in a series of programs aimed at addressing one or more elements of access, affordability, and student debt. Other efforts include George’s Brigade, a group application program that provides full aid against the cost of attendance for high-ability, high-need students, and Dam the Debt, which seeks to lower debt levels for current students at Washington College.

 

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