HMC, Pomona, Scripps Raise Total Attendance Costs by Average of 3.9%

Average tuition prices for private four-year colleges have risen in the last five years, according to College Board data. Next year's tuition costs in Claremont will reflect this trend, as Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College have confirmed an increase in their costs of attendance for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Pitzer College and Claremont McKenna College will confirm their tuition rates at their Board of Trustees meetings in May.

Harvey Mudd College had the highest rate of tuition increase. The cost of attendance for the 2015-2016 academic year will be $67,155, a 4.2 percent increase from the 2014-2015 total cost of $64,427. Tuition went up by 4.2 percent, room and board by 4.2 percent, and student fees increased by 0.7 percent, making HMC the most expensive 5C to attend. When personal expenses and books and supplies costs are added into the equation, the total cost of attendance comes out to $69,355.

Pomona had a 3.7 percent increase in total cost from $60,501 to $62,770. Tuition went up by 3.9 percent, room and board by 3.0 percent and student fees by 2.4 percent, according to President David Oxtoby. Pomona maintains the lowest cost of attendance among the colleges.

Scripps ties with Pomona for the lowest rate of increase with a rise of 3.7 percent in total cost of attendance from $61,940 to $64,260. Tuition increased by 3.7 percent, room and board increased by 3.7 percent and student fees remained the same, according to data from the Scripps Office of Financial Aid.

Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe said that the prime reason for consistent increases in tuition each year is to sustain the quality of education as well as the level of financial aid.

“When we have an increase, our financial aid packages for students also increase,” Klawe said. “We care very much about our student-to-faculty ratio, research experiences for students, and the opportunity to work in labs and get an education that has up-to-date equipment.”

Oxtoby also said that the rising costs allow Pomona to pay staff and faculty members, provide more financial aid and keep up with the expenses to run and maintain facilities. 

“Tuition costs go to a wide variety of purposes,” Oxtoby said. “The single biggest expense we have is salaries—and that is for both faculty and staff. We want to be competitive to have top-quality faculty and staff.”

According to Oxtoby, improving the quality of the education is the primary goal of tuition increases.

“We think seriously about the cost of the education, but also about the quality," he said. "So we try to keep the tuition and room and board increases as low as we can, but with the goal of maintaining and improving the quality.” 

For the first time last year, all 5Cs cost more than $60,000 per year to attend. Students were mixed in their opinions on tuition hikes. 

“I think we have to address a growing economy and, of course, maintain the quality of our resources and professors,” Allie Williams PZ ’17 said. “A tuition hike is necessary and worth it—especially in a perpetually stimulating and growing consortium like the Claremont Colleges where so many resources are shared.”

Ananya Bhandare SC ’17 expressed concern about the rising cost of attending the Claremont Colleges.

“As an international student straddled between two different economies, an increase in the total cost of attendance, even by a percent or so, poses a big difference,” Bhandare said. “It will be important for the colleges to find alternatives in making them more affordable.”

Klawe said that HMC has been increasing its cost of attendance every year for a long time. The college used to raise tuition by five percent every year, and plans to gradually reduce that to 3.5 percent by either the 2017-2018 or 2018-2019 academic year. The rate of increase to the 2013-2014 school year was 4.5 percent for HMC, 4.9 percent for Pomona, and 4.0 percent for Scripps, the average of which comes out to 4.5 percent. This year's average rate of increase for the three colleges was 3.9 percent.

“I worry whether we are able to provide enough financial aid to families who are in between the low income level and high income level," Klawe said. "60 percent of our students come in that range.”