Cost of Hillsdale College hits eight-year high

The following was published in the Hillsdale Collegian on September 7, 2017. It has been reposted with permission from the Hillsdale Collegian Staff.

Hillsdale College’s price tag jumped to an all-time high this fall, with costs increasing more than they have in the last eight years.

The total cost including fees, room and board for the 2017-2018 academic year increased by 4.56 percent to $37,352.

While Hillsdale’s costs remain lower than the average private four-year institution,

they are increasing at a faster pace. Since 2012, Hillsdale’s costs have increased by 16.7 percent. According to the College Board, the average private four-year institution has increased only 9.5 percent over the same period.

“Hillsdale tuition is $25,540 — low compared to similar institutions,” Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé said in an email. “This means even a 2.5 percent increase at another similar institution, with much higher tuition, is much more money.”

A portion of that comes from a 41 percent increase in student fees, which rose from $852 to $1,202. Patrick Flannery, treasurer and vice president of finance, said the increase in student fees was due to a new maintenance fee to cover the costs of Whitley Residence’s renovations and new flooring in the Suites.

Flannery said the fee helps with maintenance of the college’s facilities. It also appears as a separate line item on students’ online bill statement.

“One of the good things is that it makes things transparent,” Flannery said. “It lets student know how much of their money goes towards these types of things.”

Flannery added that the new fee was not being used toward construction of Christ Chapel.

According to the college’s website, student fees go toward Student Federation dues, athletic events admission, health service, a student ID, and graduation cap and gown.

The increase in cost will also affect students receiving merit-based scholarships. Financial Aid Director Richard Moeggenberg said the college decided two years ago to no longer award gifts covering a percentage of tuition. Insead, the college is granting awards for fixed dollar amounts.

“There’s a finite amount of scholarships,” he said. “To keep that in control, we made the decision to not tie merit awards to a percentage. If a student has a $15,000 merit award, when tuition goes up by 3.5 percent, essentially the value of their scholarship goes down.”

While returning students may face aid packages with lesser value, Moeggenberg said incoming freshmen are receiving more merit awards than ever before.

“We’re receiving students with strong academic backgrounds, and we’re awarding more and more merit monies,” he said. “The average financial package for this year’s freshmen and last year’s freshmen exceeded what we had given in the past.”

According to Péwé, the college budgeted to increase financial aid funds for five years at an annual rate of 9 percent.

Still, for students such as sophomore James Millius, the fixed system increases the financial burden of attending the college.

“Many others and I rely on financial aid to go here,” he said. “When costs go up without an increase in financial aid, it affects a lot of us.”

Péwé added that when the school raises its price, it creates additional challenges for the college, as well.

“Every tuition increase is actually a burden, not just revenue, because we have to supply proportionately more financial aid to meet the additional costs — a financial blessing and a curse,” he said.

To view the original story on the Hillsdale Collegian webpage, click here.