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  • Grace Brown

Excellence remains reachable regardless of raised rate

By Grace Brown, Columnist

Tuition has broken $30,000 for the first time in half a decade. Source: Canisius College Common Data Set and Eileen Herbert. Compiled by Patrick Healy.

The tuition price for the 2022-23 academic year, reported by The Griffin in December, may have members of the Canisius community feeling a conglomerate of confusion, frustration and even betrayal as the price rises ever higher.

Breaching $30,000 for the first time in five years, the 3% increase in tuition unfortunately coincides with a national time of financial disaster, as the COVID-19 pandemic stubborns refuses to relinquish control over the economy. Across the United States, supply chains are disrupted and production is slow, leaving many with reduced income in the first place.

Subsequently, facing an elevated tuition cost may appear daunting. Students and families are understandably frustrated, feeling as though they have managed sufficient struggles with the college. Given the reduced time on campus in comparison to past academic years, recurring cancellation of study abroad trips and excursions (alongside the frequent necessity to quarantine as a result of inevitable classroom exposure), the present scenario may leave many students feeling shorted by the school they pay so well for a thorough education.

Professors and other faculty may feel similarly betrayed, having recently lost numerous colleagues from their ranks whom they enjoyed working with. The expense of their beloved coworkers was explained away as an unfavorable side effect of budget cuts required to supposedly keep costs down collegewide, including expenses such as tuition. Yet here they are now — still mourning the loss of a large portion of faculty members while observing a rise in Canisius’s revenue stream.

Though it may be easy to empathize with these gripes and groans aimed at the Canisius Board of Trustees, which is responsible for determining the tuition price, these complaints are shortsighted, especially given the current plight of higher education.

Aside from decreased enrollment nationwide in academic institutions not unlike Canisius, the pandemic-rocked economy has been placing simultaneous strains on the function of the college. The termination of numerous invaluable professors and controversy arising over the requirement of vaccine mandates should be clear evidence of the troubles hammering the college from the inside out.

Keeping that in mind, the college continues to demonstrate a commitment to the “Excellence Within Reach” initiative proposed by President Hurley in 2018. That year marked the single largest decrease in tuition in the college’s history, a near 23% decrease in price from 2017.

This major cut was performed in an effort to bolster the accessibility and affordability of a Canisius education, thereby facilitating the admission of a more diverse population at the college. As a result, the tuition price proposed for the coming academic year of 2022-23 falls almost exactly in line with the preceding tuition of 2012 — hovering just above $30,000 per year. Imagine if consumer goods were still equal to their cost in 2012!

In comparison to last year’s tuition, the incoming bill is a mere 3% increase. Inflation is generally around 2.5%, and tuition has increased at about that rate over the past decade.

Moreover, this marginal rise pales in comparison to the Consumer Price Index reported by the Department of Labor’s recent estimate of a whopping 7.0% for December 2021 — the highest since June, 1982. Had tuition similarly inflated by a full 7.0%, it would be upwards of $31,300. Taking those numbers into account, the 3.0% increase faced by the Canisius community seems more feasible.

In addition, the majority of Canisius students in attendance receive a considerable amount of financial aid. 69% of the total undergraduate population received need-based aid last year. In addition to this majority, a large number of academic scholarships are awarded annually by the college.

The average student who received need-based financial aid last year was awarded $18,067, thereby offering assistance with more than half of the posted tuition price. That cumulates a grand total of $16,832,560 in need-based aid; in addition, a sizable $4,401,255 in non–need-based aid was awarded in the 2020-21 academic year.

With financial aid packages of this amount, Canisius manages to compete with the tuition prices posed by local public higher education institutions, such as University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College, not to mention the lofty expenses of local private schools such as Daemen and D'Youville.

In this way, Canisius provides a reasonably priced opportunity to obtain a quality education to the population of Buffalo and beyond.

Consequently, the survival of the college still adheres to the mission of accessibility and affordability Hurley advocated for in his 2017 “Excellence Within Reach” proposal. The Jesuit values of kinship and just service remain resilient, despite the arduous conditions of our modern economy.

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