Tuitions Increase, Pomona, Scripps Break $60K

As the Claremont Colleges finalize their price tags, the costs of attending at least three of the colleges are set to increase for the 2014-2015 school year. The cost of attending Harvey Mudd College, Pomona College, and Scripps College will increase by 4.5 percent, 4.9 percent, and 4 percent respectively from this year, compared to a 1.1 percent annual inflation rate. Claremont McKenna College and Pitzer College will finalize their 2014-2015 costs during their Board of Trustees meetings in May.

Pomona President David Oxtoby said that college tuition has to rise every year to match inflated expenses.

"We are trying to hire outstanding faculty and staff, and obviously we want to be competitive with salaries," Oxtoby said. "I’d say right now one of the big things that’s going up is benefits because of health care costs. That had gone up more slowly for a few years but now it’s gone up quite a bit, certainly over 10 percent.”

With the increases, Pomona and Scripps have each broken $60,000 for their total costs of attendance. Pitzer, Pomona, and Scripps were the only Claremont Colleges below $60,000 in the 2013-2014 school year. If Pitzer decides in May to increase its total cost of attendance by more than 1.4 percent from this school year’s $59,416, all five Claremont Colleges will for the first time cost more than $60,000 to attend.

Many students expressed concern about the rising cost of attending the Claremont Colleges and other private colleges in the United States.

“In general, I think that tuition in private universities and colleges is unsustainable," Mary May HM '15 said. "I don’t know if it’s reasonable or if we need to find some other way to make higher education affordable. Harvey Mudd is one of the most expensive colleges in the nation and so while I do think it provides a lot of expensive services like a really great faculty, I think it’s something that will eventually have to go down."

John Harmelen PO '17 said that he thinks the cost increases are justified. 

“On the one hand you need to deal with, of course, the rising things with income and health care and … price is going up for anything and everything," said. "As long as they are improving the quality of the education for the students, it is acceptable."

Harmelen, who receives financial aid, said that aid ought to be raised "dollar for dollar" as tuition increases to ensure all demonstrated need is met. 

Oxtoby promised Pomona’s continued commitment to financial aid and a strong education.

“Whenever we increase tuition, financial aid actually ends up going up more than that because as you would expect, people on financial aid, we’re increasing their packages, and we’re increasing the number on financial aid also,” Oxtoby said. “We also worry about the students who are not on financial aid because in any cases their families are having challenges too. So we really try to keep our expenses down, but we want to maintain this best education around.” 

The highest rate of increase was seen at Pomona, which sent out a letter to the student body March 21 to inform students of the total cost of attendance for next year. The price tag for the 2014-2015 school year will be $60,501, up 4.9 percent from the price of $57,680 for the 2013-2014 school year. Tuition went up by 5.2 percent, room and board by 4.3 percent, and student fees by 2.2 percent. Pomona maintains the lowest total cost of attendance among the colleges. 

HMC came in next with a 4.5 percent increase in total cost from $61,660 to $64,427. Tuition went up by 4.5 percent, room and board by 4.5 percent, and student fees by 1.5 percent, according to Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid Thyra L. Briggs.

Scripps has the lowest rate of increase with a rise of approximately 4 percent in total cost of attendance from $59,570 to $61,940. Tuition increased by 4 percent, room and board increased by 4 percent, and student fees remained the same, according to data from the Scripps Office of Financial Aid.