Warming up to a Tuition Freeze

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, in its recently released fourth quarter 2011 New England Community Survey, cited an emerging concern facing low- and moderate-income communities: the escalating cost of higher education.

The New England region has the highest average tuition and fee rates for 2011-12 across institutional sectors, according to the College Board’s most recent report on Trends in College Pricing. Meanwhile, NEBHE’s 2011 Tuition and Fee report shows the average share of family income required to pay published tuition and fees at New England public institutions has increased across the region, with few exceptions. This change in family income needed to pay for college has disproportionately impacted New England’s lower-income families.

Thankfully, some colleges in the region are attempting to buck the trend by freezing undergraduate tuition.

Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire announced that it would freeze tuition at $28,250 for the 2012-13 year, while citing last year’s 2% tuition increase as the lowest hike among all four-year private and public colleges in the state. The university also eliminated course fees and campus parking fees.

Similarly, Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts announced that it would hold tuition as well as room and board charges at 2011-12 levels.

The University of Maine system also froze in-state tuition for the 2012-13 year.

The website FinAid, created by Mark Kantrowitz, the financial aid and college planning author who also publishes FastWeb, lists colleges that have cut or frozen tuition instead of raising it.

Monnica Chan is director of policy & research at NEBHE.


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