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Cost to study, live at Tufts University expected to rise 4 percent to $61k for 2014-15

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

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The annual cost to study and live at Tufts University is expected to rise by nearly 4 percent to $61,100 next fall.

If approved by the school’s trustee board later this spring, the proposed increase would make Tufts the first higher education institution in the Boston-area and the second statewide to charge students more than $60,000 in tuition, room, board and mandatory fees.

However, few other schools have announced what students will be charged in the next academic year, and it is likely that the $60,000-and-up club will grow as other local institutions unveil their 2014-15 rates.

“While these figures are preliminary and could change between now and May, when the board of trustees finalizes them, we think it makes sense for students and parents to have this information now,” said campus spokeswoman Kimberly Thurler.

“We expect undergraduate financial aid will increase by a significant amount in the coming year. Tufts commits to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every undergraduate we accept for all four years at Tufts,” she added. “All our undergraduate aid is based on financial need, which assures that our aid goes to needy students who would otherwise not have access to a Tufts education. Last year the average grant for first-year students was almost $36,000.”

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.

Estimated personal and travel expenses can bring the total cost for Amherst above $65,000, according to the school’s website.

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 pricy 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 proposed cost for the 2014-15 year at Tufts, which campus officials said could change before the university finalizes the figure in the spring, would be a 3.95 percent increase from the current price tag of $58,780.

Next year’s proposed total price tag would include $47,444 for full-time undergraduate tuition, $6,892 a year for housing, $5,720 for a meal plan, $736 for a mandatory health services fee and $308 for a student activity fee.

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

Most other area colleges and universities will announce their rates over the next few months.

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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