College to Increase Tuition 3.95% for Upcoming Academic Year

Rebecca Agababian '21, Co-Editor-in-Chief

After the college temporarily suspended its planned tuition increase for the current fiscal year because of the pandemic, students should now expect a comprehensive fee increase of 3.92% for the 2022 fiscal year. This includes a 3.95% increase in tuition.

While tuition refers solely to the cost and logistics of academic instruction, the comprehensive fee accounts for all the other components of the Dickinson experience, which are  room, board, and student fees. 

In the 2022 fiscal year, tuition, room, and board will each increase by 3.95%, while student fees will remain unchanged. When averaged, this results in a comprehensive fee increase of 3.92% compared to the 2021 fiscal year. 

Unlike calendar years, which starts on January 1st and ends on the last day of December, the college’s fiscal years begin on July 1st and end on the last day of June. Fiscal years are referred to by the year that they end with. The upcoming fiscal year will start in July 2021 and end in June 2022. As a result, it is referred to as the “2022 fiscal year.”

This 3.92% increase is comparable with fee increases in the last five years. According to the administration, the comprehensive fee increased an average of 3.45% each year from fiscal year 2016 to 2020.

However, due to the challenges presented by the pandemic, tuition was frozen for the 2021 fiscal year while room and board remained the same for those who were living on campus, consequently leading to a comprehensive fee increase of just .7% for those staying in Carlisle.

“We had several committee discussions dedicated to next year’s comprehensive fee increase which included comparative analysis with our peer institutions,” said Brontè Burleigh-Jones, vice president for finance and administration. “It is important to note that a significant number of these institutions did not freeze their tuition for the current academic year compared to Dickinson who chose to do so in light of the financial challenges faced by many of our families as a result of COVID-19.”

The comprehensive fee for the 2022 fiscal year will total to $73,960. It will consist of $58,158 for tuition, $7,866 for room, $7,386 for board, and $550 in student fees. 

“Our increases have generally been below our peer group,” said President Margee Ensign. “It’s a combination of inflation and very real costs, you know the teaching costs really weren’t static last year, there were many new expenses that we had to pay to cover what was happening.” 

“It’s really important to understand that while we’ve lived through this, it looks like expenses haven’t increased, but they really have,” said Ensign. “For everything that we’re doing including testing, we’re still one of the few doing testing twice a week. And so we really made a commitment, as you know, from the very beginning, to the health and safety of the community. And that was the right thing to do, but also extremely costly.”

“We did not increase [tuition] last year, and many of our peers did,” said Connie McNamara, vice president of marketing and communications. “And even some who said they weren’t, if you read the fine print they did. So we are in line with peers, and I think like Margee [Ensign] said it’s lower than the others.”

Referencing the college’s May 2020 salary freeze as a necessary budgetary measure the college took as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Provost Neil Weissman said “That was an appropriate response to the circumstances but it is not a long-term policy. In order to retain good people and sustain the quality of the program we have to give people raises, and that’s one of the drivers.”

Weissman added “There’s a lot of human capital. Our costs are bound up in all the experts, faculty, and staff who sustain the program, and they require support.”

“We truly during this year have tried to be extremely equitable, as one of the few that kept everyone on the payroll that first period,” said Ensign. “And as I look around the country and even more locally, many staff lost positions during that period. Dickinson made an extraordinary commitment to keep everyone going. So trying times, difficult times for everyone, but I’m proud of the way we handled that year, and now we have expenses we have to cover.”