A Struggling Economy Forces Student Fees to Rise as Tuition Remains Constant

Byline: by Jyotsna Dhakal

Posted: March 23, 2012

The Board of Trustees approved a 1.2 percent hike in fees and voted to maintain the tuition for next year at the 2011-2012 rate of $28,745. The increment amounts to $458.00, paid by full-time, residential students for the next academic year. The Board made the decision upon the recommendation of Pres. Barbara K. Mistick.

The 1.2 percent breakdown is as follows:




Increase Rate

Tuition (full-time)



0.0 percent

Double Room Rate



4.5 percent




4.5 percent

Technology Fee



4.5 percent

College Government Fee (includes student activities fee)



2.0 percent

Total Annual Comprehensive Fees (excluding J-term and Summer terms)



1.2 percent

The increase from the Fall of 2010 to the Fall of 2011 was 3.72 percent.

Vice President for Enrollment, Mary Ann Naso says, “Utilities such as water, electricity, gas, or oil are not free to anyone, including Wilson. They are going up all across the country at rates much higher than our 1.2 percent increase.”

Besides offsetting the direct increases in the college’s cost of providing services, the additional revenue will go into supporting ongoing operations, says Vice President for Finance and Administration, Brian Ecker. “We are converting over to a Datatel system, which is an integrated information technology system,” he adds.

96 percent of Wilson students receive some form of financial aid. According to Dean of Financial Aid, Linda Brittain, the decision will not have much impact on financial aid. She says, “We definitely will be awarding the financial aid that students generally received in the past.”

Ayorkor Dua ’14 hails from Ghana, and says, “It’s a good thing tuition isn’t going up.” For Dua, the cost of education reaches $7,000 every semester despite the financial aid she receives. Although her parents pay for her education, Dua says she could have used the incremented amount to pay her phone bills, or buy her textbooks which “are so costly.”

Kate Johnston ’13 says, “I keep seeing increases in the costs, but not much is changing.” She finds hikes in fees acceptable as long as changes are being made. Johnston says, “$458.00 could mean the difference between having horse lessons here and not being able to ride next year.” Johnston took $8,000 as private loan last year and $14,000 this year, to pay for her education. “It’s been tough,” she says.

Wilson has a six-year average retention rate of 74 percent for freshman to sophomore year. Every year Admissions collects information from students who were offered admission but chose not to enroll.

Below is the information from students who applied for fall 2011, were admitted but chose not to attend Wilson:

34 percent cited cost

This could mean:

  • bottom line cost
  • a better financial aid package
  • opted not to go away to college and will attend a local community college instead

63 percent cited reasons other than cost

  • 29.2 percent said they were staying closer to home.
  • 11 percent said they were accepted at their first choice.
  • 4.6 percent wanted to attend a bigger school.
  • 4.6 percent wanted a major that Wilson does not offer.
  • 4 percent were taking time off and would not attend college this year.
  • 2.92 percent wanted to attend a co-ed institution.
  • 2.3 percent wanted a more competitive sports program.
  • 1.75 percent were local students who wanted to be farther away from home.
  • 1.75 percent said Wilson was not a good fit for them.
  • 1.16 percent had personal issues that they had to deal with.

As seen, one-third of the accepted applicant pool does not enroll for reasons related to cost.

Ecker expects holding the tuition will help Wilson with its retention. He anticipates positive responses since “it is such a small increase.”

At about the same time that the decision was made, James Hay, Asst. Prof. of Accounting, put forward a three-part proposal that Wilson:

  • cut its tuition by 15 percent for two successive years and hold it constant at that for two more years
  • guarantee incoming freshmen a maximum cost for four academic years
  • announce its tuition amounts a year earlier than they are currently being done

Hay hopes Wilson will consider this proposal in the future. “Hopefully all three of those things will help us attract more students,” he says.

Last Updated: December 5, 2012

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