CC Tuition and Costs Balance Competition and Student Need

As reported last week, Colorado College’s tuition will increase to nearly $55,000 for the 2018¬2019 academic year with a total cost of approximately $71,000.

Photo by Kochi Nakajima

This $71,000 price tag, however, does not cover the total cost of attendance. According to the Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration Robert Moore, it costs approximately $85,000 a year for one student to attend CC. The $700 million endowment, the donation-dependent fund of which the college spends about 5 percent annually, subsidizes tuition for every student—even if they  do not receive financial aid.

Next year’s budget breakdown follows a similar pattern to previous years. Room and board, which includes residential halls and other on-campus housing and Bon Appétit, are self-supporting. Set at about $12,500 for the 2018-2019 school year, CC’s living expenses will cover costs associated with students’ residential life. The $474 student fee, determined by the Colorado College Student Government Association, covers student activities such as Blues and Shoes, Llamapalooza, Rail Jam, and club activities.

Set by the Campus Budget Committee, composed of the Dean of Students, Dean of Faculty, Senior VP of Finance and Administration, four faculty, two staff, and two students, the remaining $55,000 of attendance costs make up the bulk of CC’s “people intensive budget.”

CC designates over 50 percent of tuition to the salary/benefits pool for faculty and staff. To ensure retention, CC aims to pay just above the median salary as determined by the average of its peer institutions. “We don’t ever want a professor to leave because CC doesn’t provide a competitive salary,” said Moore.

Remaining competitive amongst similar institutions means hiring highly educated and experienced professors and staff whose market salary is subject to faster increases than most other professions. The 2018-2019 tuition increase follows suit, accounting for a 3 percent increase in the faculty and staff salary pools. The allocation of such funds is not uniform and follows different processes depending on if someone is faculty or staff. The remaining half of tuition covers financial aid and the college’s operating costs; 32 percent of tuition supports financial aid, in addition to the endowment’s contribution. The rest of tuition contributes to the college’s department budgets, operating costs, facility improvements, etc.

CC’s commitment to the Block Plan, state of the art academic facilities, DI and DIII athletics, and field studies means that students receive access to exclusive opportunities, but also bear the costs that go with them. For example, operating on the Block Plan, which requires a classroom for nearly every class simultaneously, incurs a cost that most schools do not have to factor into their budgets. Additionally, the flexibility of the Block Plan—which allows CC to “embrace the world as our classroom,” and places an emphasis on field work, learning outside the classroom, and study abroad—requires a far larger transportation budget than most colleges.

After accounting for faculty and staff, financial aid, and operating costs that support CC’s core values, the remaining 5-10 percent of tuition works to address the college’s priorities. In recent years, the departments and staff that received the greatest expansions and improvements have been Campus Safety, Information Technology, The Counseling Center, paraprofessionals, and admissions team members. With the major renovation of Tutt Library, the tuition from the students who benefit from the building has also started to offset the construction debt.

The tuition increase in the upcoming year continues CC’s financial trend and falls in line with both institutions like CC and the exponential increase in education costs across the country.

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