By Carley Crain
In an email sent out to the student body on Nov. 1, the Division of Finance and Administration announced that the board of trustees approved a 3.5% increase to tuition, meal plans and housing for the 2023-2024 academic year, as well as implementing a new facility infrastructure fee that would increase tuition another 1 percent, making the total 4.5%.
The price of tuition has stayed the same since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, as this will be the first increase in more than two years. Springfield College is unique in this choice, as most surrounding universities raised tuition costs throughout the pandemic.
Even though Springfield is nearing a price tag of $60,000 a year, it still remains lower than competing colleges in the area. For example, Smith College in Northampton, Mass., is over $20,000 more expensive than Springfield, as its yearly rate is $81,992. Amherst College is also over $80,000 a year, as its annual cost is $80,250.
In the mass email, the Administration explained that its decision to raise tuition was made based on many factors, such as inflation and the increase in prices of goods and services. Offering financial aid is a top priority, however. “The College remains committed to providing an affordable education for all our students. The cost of attending Springfield College remains the lowest among our competitors and peers and we will continue to provide robust financial aid packages,” said the email.
This year the average financial aid package for Springfield College students was $28,000. One hundred percent of students receive some type of financial aid at Springfield College, whether that be through Merit scholarships, grants, need-based funds, or from the federal government.
Students may also receive assistance through President Joe Biden’s student loan relief forgiveness plan if the program becomes unblocked from legal battles and lawsuits. If the program becomes legal, students who make under $125,000 yearly would be forgiven $10,000, and those who received a federal Pell Grant in college would receive $20,000 if they meet the same income requirements.
Federal student loan payments are also on hold until June of 2023, or when the federal relief program is accepted by the courts.
With the cost of attendance at Springfield rising, many students are curious: Where is all the money from tuition going?
The Student Government Association (SGA) recently held a meeting where students were able to ask questions like this about the increase, as well as talk with financial aid counselors regarding aid.
Addressing aging infrastructure and maintenance to dorms is a top priority for the college, and money from tuition is used to help these projects, as well as updated cybersecurity, a new firewall, updated classroom equipment, new security cameras, renovations to Dodge, a new computer lab, Learning Commons data generator, wifi updates and IT maintenance.
“We have had a tendency to put bandaids on things and not actually fix them,” said Doug Wydom, president of SGA.
Wydom explained to The Student that the new health science center is not being funded directly from tuition, which is a common misconception among students. The college received a $106 million, tax-exempt bond from MassDevelopment to pursue construction on the new building. In fact, according to WWLP.com, just about $45 million is being used to construct the new Health Science Center, and the remainder of the funds will be used on other projects, like upgrading walking/running paths, building a campus pavilion, renovating the existing health science center and more.
A top concern regarding the increase is affordability? for students and a large portion of the financial aid given to students at Springfield is through merit scholarships. Around 30% of Springfield’s entire budget is set aside for financial aid, according to Wydom, and just about $50 million is through merit scholarships alone. Additionally, more than 300 donors donate $1.7 million through general funds, which typically go toward helping students, according to Wydom.
“It’s almost unheard of when you think about other schools, ”Wydom said. “They are giving a third of their money back to students.”
The college also no longer requires students to submit SAT scores with their application, which can be helpful for those who are not great test-takers but have good GPAs. The highest merit scholarship at Springfield College is the Trustee scholarship, which is $12,500 a semester and totals $100,000 for four years.
Springfield is committed to helping students receive an affordable education, and will continue to serve students in the best way possible, according to the mass email, “We look forward to continuing to provide you with a world-class education and an incredible student experience,” the email read.
Photo: Springfield College