From academic year 2020-2021 to academic year 2021-2022, Bates’ comprehensive single fee rose 2.98%. The single fee this year is $75,720.
Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Geoff Swift explained that the costs of keeping Bates running – such as employee wages, building maintenance, and IT software and infrastructure – increases each year. About 75% of the revenue that Bates receives comes from the single fee. Therefore, increasing costs each year necessitates increasing revenue. This pattern has held true for Bates; since 1996, the cost of attendance has risen each year.
Several of the aforementioned expenses were considered in the decision to increase the fee this year, and COVID-19 continues to play a role in budgeting. Though the fee has gone up each year, the 2.98% increase in the fee is slightly smaller than last year’s 3% increase. For the last several years, the percentage increase has stayed around 3%.
Swift stated that the long term goal around cost of attendance is “to moderate tuition as much as we can, price fairly, and be able to generate the resources necessary to provide a top flight residential liberal arts education.”
All of the other schools in the NESCAC also saw increases to their overall cost of attendance.
Williams and Bowdoin had particularly high increases in tuition this year, which came after decreases in tuition in the previous year. Swift says that he tracks where Bates’ costs sit in comparison to approximately forty-five peer institutions. This year, Bates has the eighth highest fee out of the eleven schools in the NESCAC.
According to a 2020 article for The Student, “Bates’ six-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR)…is the second-lowest of the 44 institutions Swift tracks at 3.24%.”
The biggest concern of rising tuition costs are the repercussions for students with demonstrated financial need. Bates College Student Government Co-President Kush Sharma ‘23 commented on this concern, sharing that, “The college has increased the tuition for the third time in the three years I have been here. My biggest worry is how this impacts who can choose and afford Bates and how that influences the college’s culture and its demographic diversity. Bates cannot become a school for the rich elite of New England.”
Financial aid information from BatesFacts indicates that despite tuition increases, Bates is still able to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need. However, the nuances behind Bates’ socio-economic demographics show how tuition costs may leave some students behind. For instance, in fall 2019, 43% of students received need based grants. In fall 2020, only 39% of students received need based grants.