A 4% tuition spike, $50 increase in the student activity fee, and a slew of changes to housing logistics and prices were announced in an email from President Kent Devereaux to undergraduate students on April 20 – in the middle of course registration and the day after room draw. Less than four hours later the announcement was made, another email was sent out apologizing for the late notice of the tuition changes, and assuring students announcements would be made earlier going forward.
Following the delayed announcement, fliers began popping up on walls and bulletin boards across campus that read: “Goucher raises tuition after students are registered for classes and rooms so we’re committed before we’re informed. It’s shitty and underhanded, make sure the admins know it.”
Price increases from previous years have hovered around the 2% mark, and are typically announced in March. Several administrative officials apologized for the short notice, and said that there was no malicious intent behind the delayed announcement, including Jonothan Lindsday, Vice President for Enrollment Management.
“It wasn’t intended to be underhanded in any way, it was just too much on my plate,” said Lindsay, who began drafting the announcements and website adjustments for tuition a week prior to when the email was sent out, but was inundated with other tasks at the time. Lindsay also said that for next year, the announcement will be placed on a calendar with an early April deadline.
Inflation plays a major role in the sharper increase in tuition, as Goucher is now being charged more by contractors such as Bon Appetit, and has to pay more for goods and services overall, said President Devereaux. The increased fees will also help provide faculty and staff with competitive pay, he said.
Students will likely see the most immediate change in housing and student activities. Housing contracts have now been adjusted to cover a 10-month period, meaning students do not need to apply or pay extra for housing over winter break, according to Aarika Camp, Vice President for Student Affairs.
Devereaux said that about 20% of students take online classes during J-term, and that he’s been “promoting and tasked the faculty” with more intensive, hands-on course offerings, and 10-month housing contracts may incentivise students to stay on campus over the break.
There will also be several upgrades to the furniture throughout the dorms, including an increased number of full-size beds starting with Sondheim and Hooper houses, upgrades to the TVs and furniture in common rooms, and repainting the walls of dorm rooms, officials said.
Camp said that she worked closely with Lindy Bobbit, Director of Residential Life, to analyze the housing rates so that they would better reflect the amenities that come with each room and provide more “fairness” in pricing.
“When I got here… if you were in a double with no air conditioning and a shared bathroom, you were paying the same amount as a double with a private bathroom and air conditioning,” Camp said. “I get where the school was coming from in that if you’re in a double, you’re in a double. However, it didn’t give students the flexibility to pick and choose what was important to them, versus what they could pay for.”
The proposed tuition and fee pricing for the upcoming academic year are determined the Fall before, in order to award admitted students appropriate financial aid and merit awards, said Lindsay. The process has many layers – Devereaux said that the Board of Trustees also plays a role in the final decision, as does aid money from state and local governments.
“This year was tough because we wanted to wait and see what impact the Fed raising interest rates pushing down inflation would have,” said Devereaux. “That’s what pushed us into April.”
Need-based financial aid awards are adjusted each year to account for increases in tuition and changes in a student’s financial situation, but merit scholarships remain the same for each of the eight semesters they are awarded. However, the range of merit scholarship awards increases for each incoming class, Lindsay said.
Calder Brown ‘23 spoke about the increase from their perspective as someone who has been enrolled since Fall of 2019 and plans to graduate this December.
“As an institution, a group that has responsibility, they’re [administration] not setting the example,” said Brown, and called the whole situation “messy.” “We as the people who are paying deserve to know earlier. They should’ve put the deadline on a calendar 10 years ago.”
Brown expressed that they see a double standard in the way administration operates, and compared the situation of price increases being announced after students signed the financial responsibility agreement to the role Goucher students have when it comes to meeting deadlines.
“If I were to turn in my final paper a week after the deadline, and just expected my professor to deal with it, that wouldn’t be acceptable,” they said.
Brown also expressed that they feel tuition increases would be more reasonable if they felt the Goucher experience was improving, but said that throughout their years here, that hasn’t been the case. They mentioned that the stories they heard from upperclassmen differed from the school they experienced in their pre-pandemic first year.
Brown provided several areas where they feel there’s dysfunction on campus that goes unchecked as prices rise, including accommodation services as well as DegreeWorks, the platform students use to track their academic progress. “People don’t even know that they’re graduating… their advisors don’t know how to advise because of issues with DegreeWorks,” they said.
With just one semester left in their college career, Brown feels that students would be more understanding of these increases if they saw their money being put to use, announcements were made in a timely manner, and issues, such as those with DegreeWorks, were resolved rather than left to fester. Brown said that an increase in on-campus job opportunities outside of work-study positions would help students support themselves financially, especially if there were major-specific work placement opportunities.
“I wish we wouldn’t have to raise it at all,” said Devereaux, “but the reality is between inflation and making sure we’re able to eke up our faculty and staff pay, that alone is what’s forcing us to do that. If inflation was 2%, we wouldn’t be raising our tuition and fees and everything by 4%.”
To view the updated tuition, fees, housing, and meal plan pricing, click here.