Pomona tuition reaches historic high

A drawing of five columns of money, each higher than the last. A student in a graduation gown stands on the first column, beginning to step up to the next, with a worried and dismayed look on their face.
(Lucia Marquez-Uppman • The Student Life)

Following a nine-year trend, Pomona College will increase tuition for the 2023-2024 academic year. 

According to an email sent by President Gabrielle Starr on March 13, tuition will be raised to $61,906, and room and board will be raised to $20,374. ASPC student fees will remain at $420. These increases will total to a comprehensive fee of $82,700, reflecting a 5.2 percent increase in price over the past year. 

Jeff Roth, COO and treasurer at Pomona, stated that this raise in tuition largely stems from rising economic cost pressures and inflation. He further explained that the college will likely see continued increases in tuition in the following years.

“While we are careful stewards of our available resources, we can’t completely insulate our budget from the rising cost pressures in our economy,” Roth said in an email to TSL. “Therefore, as we look ahead, we do anticipate a need for continued modest annual increases over the [next] few years.”

On average, 5C tuition rises at a higher rate than nationwide inflation. (Gus Albach • The Student Life)

Both Starr and Roth emphasized Pomona’s commitment to supporting students with this financial investment, claiming that the school will increase financial aid along with tuition in order to meet each student’s full demonstrated need.

Despite this promised increase in financial support, ASPC President Vera Berger PO ’23 expressed concern about the effect of this tuition change on prospective students. 

“People see the sticker price on a place like Pomona and can be deterred from applying because they don’t know how financial aid works or maybe because they’re not eligible for full financial aid,” Berger said. 

ASPC Vice President of Finance Ariana Makar PO ’24 similarly noted that tuition increases potentially hinder prospective students from attending. She also acknowledged the frustration that students might feel regarding this financial change.

“Tuition goes up, but some of the services or traditions on campus don’t move with it, which can be frustrating,” Makar said. 

Makar also stated that while Pomona does have resources that help students with financial changes and information, these resources are relatively unadvertised and inaccessible, especially to newer students. She cited emergency grant funding as an example.

“I know that we have emergency grant funding through Merryann Bishop [administrative services coordinator and dean of students at Pomona], and I just learned about that this year as a junior,” Makar said. “There are resources, but they’re not well advertised, and I think accessibility is not done the best that it could be.”

Berger added that beyond transparency, she would also like to see Pomona provide more financial resources, so that ASPC doesn’t have to take that on.

“It seems like we’re running into barriers with the college in trying to get them to support students, so ASPC is looking for alternatives,” she said.

These alternatives include attempts to increase the $50 credit allotted to students for use at the Huntley Bookstore, as well as research into open-access textbooks. 

As ASPC works towards these alternative methods of financial support, Makar hopes that the college will also improve its communication about finances, recognizing that much of the frustration about tuition increases stems from a lack of understanding between the college and the students and families paying for it. 

“There’s a lot that I’m sure students and families don’t know about what it takes to run a college and manage the budget of a college, and inflation is really high,” Makar said. “The college could definitely be more transparent about how it’s dealing with things.”

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