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Cost to study, live at Suffolk University to rise 2 percent for 2014-15; price ranges from $46k to $49k

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  February 25, 2014 10:00 AM

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The annual cost to study and live at Suffolk University will rise by about 2 percent next fall, campus officials said.

Students will pay a total of between $46,742 and $49,392 to cover tuition, fees and room and board next year, depending on which meal plan and dorm room type they have.

Those figures include $32,530 for full-time undergraduate tuition, which is up by about 3 percent from the current $31,592. The figures also include a $130-per-year undergraduate activity fee; student housing costs, which range from $11,582 a year to $13,632 – the same rates the university has charged for the last five years; and dining plans, which range from about $2,500 to $3,100 – rates that are nearly 4 percent higher than current options.

The figure does not include additional costs, such as to pay for books, supplies, health insurance, transportation or other personal expenses.

In a message to the campus community, Suffolk president James McCarthy said undergraduate tuition rate increase is the smallest percentage increase in 39 years at the university.

“The undergraduate increase is built upon a base Suffolk University tuition that remains among the lowest of comparable New England institutions,” he wrote.

“Providing an empowering education at a reasonable cost is one of the university's core values,” said McCarthy. “We are constantly working to manage resources and operations effectively and prudently, with the goal of keeping a Suffolk education affordable for our students and their families.

“We recognize that tuition costs remain an ongoing challenge for students, and we remain committed to controlling costs while strategically investing to strengthen programs and the university,” he added.

Few other area colleges and universities have released their pricing for the 2014-15 academic year. Most will announce their rates over the next few months.

Amherst College, which costs $61,443 a year currently, is the state’s most expensive school, according to a Globe review of tuition, room, board and mandatory fee rates charged by higher education institutions in Massachusetts.

Full-time students living on campus at several other private Massachusetts schools – including Brandeis and Harvard universities, MIT, and Babson, Wellesley and Williams colleges – pay in the mid- to high-$50,000s, and estimated personal and travel expenses can push their total bill above the $60,000 mark.

Many other local private schools cost more than $50,000.

Officials at such pricey schools often point out that their institutions offer generous financial aid package that can drastically lower the actual price charged to students and their families.

The Associated Press reported recently that figures from the College Board show tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose 27 percent in the past five years and tuition and fees at four-year private schools went up 14 percent.

An increasing number of schools are offering some students a guarantee that they will pay a single rate for the length of their college careers, according to the Associated Press.

And, the Globe reported recently that a number of private institutions across the country, including locally, are freezing tuition, guaranteeing graduation in four years, increasing aid or matching aid offers at competing institutions.

Though many schools tout their financial aid offerings, some experts say that potential students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, see the so-called “sticker price” and are quickly scared off before applying because they don’t realize, or are perhaps confused by, what aid options are available.

Lesley University in Cambridge recently announced it will restructure its pricing to essentially build financial aid into base tuition and fee costs, lowering the school’s “sticker price” and potentially lowering the odds that prospective students will be scared off or confused by the actual cost.

Expensive, elite schools have been particularly criticized for not doing more to recruit and admit low-income students.

Harvard recently announced it will launch an outreach and awareness campaign to try to encourage more low-income students to apply.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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