Trinity College To Charge $71,660 Next Year

Next year, Trinity College students will be charged $71,660 for tuition, room and board and fees — making it likely to be the most expensive college in the state and the first Connecticut school to pass the $70,000 mark.

While the hike is only by $2,690 crossing that $70,000 threshold comes with more sticker shock for many.

“Of course, this is all psychological, I mean $70,000 as opposed to $69,000,” said Sandy Baum, an expert on college financing and a fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.

But she said it’s not all that surprising that Trinity’s charge has climbed so high.

“Among liberal arts colleges, Trinity is always at or near the top” in cost, she said. “That’s just been historically the case.”

However, many schools in Connecticut have yet to announce their tuition and fees for next year and others look as if they could climb into the $70,000 range.

Connecticut College students are now paying $67,440, while Wesleyan University juniors and seniors pay $68,920.

Yale University is charging $66,900 this year.

For Trinity, the increase will be 3.9 percent — slightly higher than the average increases nationally of 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent in recent years, according to the College Board which tracks college costs.

Baum said she expects that many college costs will increase between 3 and 3.9 percent next year.

“It’s what has sort of been seen as a moderate increase,” Baum said.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the Trinity College community, Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney said the board of trustees recently approved the increase.

“None of us takes this decision lightly, and we understand the contexts in which we and other institutions are asking families to pay such steep costs,” Berger-Sweeney wrote.“We know that fewer and fewer families can afford to invest so deeply in their children’s education.

“We are profoundly grateful to the generations of philanthropy that have allowed Trinity to remain one of the few institutions in the country that meets the full demonstrated need of admitted students. But we must do more.”

To that end, Berger-Sweeney said, the trustees also voted to begin planning and preparing for a fundraising campaign, which she said “will be critical to our ability … to create the future we want for Trinity College.”

Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid expert based in Chicago, agreed that “there’s a psychological impact of going above these numerical thresholds. Sixty thousand to seventy thousand.”

Kantrowitz noted that the higher tuition and other charges go, the more a school like Trinity has to dole out in financial aid to keep the school affordable for low-income students.

“It points to the fact that the high tuition, high aid model may be reaching an end point,” he said.

He also noted that there’s a vast difference between a college’s sticker price and what the average student pays after financial aid and government grants are distributed.”

Baum said that in essence tuition increases are telling high-income families: “Sorry you’re going to have to pay more because otherwise we can’t both provide the education and provide access to people who can’t pay.”

She said that Trinity has a much smaller endowment than a school like Yale, which makes Trinity “much more tuition-dependent. If they are going to hold tuition down, they’ll end up spending less on financial aid.”

Baum said it’s likely that college costs will continue going up, though the rate of escalation might slow.

“If you look 30 years ago, people were saying, ‘How long can this go on?’ then,” she said.

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