Over winter break, the college finalized the tuition costs for the 2015-2016 school year, according to Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services Tom Axtell. The total comprehensive fee — which includes tuition, student fees, room and board — will be $50,859.
Axtell stressed that this number is only the “sticker price” and that the vast majority of Knox students receive some sort of financial assistance to lower the total cost of attending the college.
“I don’t know if I would need two hands to count the folks that are paying the full rate. Virtually everybody gets some kind of a discount. We’ve had a long-standing commitment to access, so financial aid is always part of the equation,” he said.
The tuition increase is $1,638 more than the total fee in 2014-2015, an increase of 3.3 percent. The total fee for 2014-2015 is $49,221. According to Axtell, this is the smallest percentage increase the college has had in recent years. Last year, tuition increased by a rate of 3.9 percent more than the cost of 2013-2014 academic year.
When deciding on tuition costs, Axtell said that the college compares their costs to similar liberal arts colleges that students considering Knox may also be looking at.
“The strategy, from a competitive point of view, was to keep the pricing comparable to other institutions on our list. It keeps us right at the same place that we’ve been for awhile and prevented further lagging behind.”
Axtell said that last year, when they were approaching the $50,000 mark, he heard concerns about the effect this would have on individuals considering the cost of attending Knox.
“Last year I heard concerns about approaching the $50,000 mark. … It’s basically a psychological barrier. It’s like anything, it’s why things are priced at $9.99 and not $10,” he said. “It’s a competitive factor in the marketplace. It’s the first thing you see, you don’t get to the net cost until you go through a more complex analysis of what it’s going to cost you.”
Axtell attended Student Senate on Nov. 14, 2014 in order to present the preliminary tuition costs to the Senate General Assembly in order to receive feedback from students. He said that the numbers that were presented to Senate are the same numbers that were finalized over break, except senators voted to not raise the student activity fee for the 2015-2016 academic year.
In Axtell’s proposal, the student activity fee would have been increased by nine dollars from $366 to $375, but Senators voted to keep the fee at $366 in 2015-2016.
Axtell applied these changes to the proposal, which was then approved by the Board in December.
Axtell noted that though tuition is increasing, students are reevaluated annually for financial aid, and could potentially receive more assistance to cover the cost of Knox, depending on their financial situation.
“There’s been a history of dividing the resources between family resources and college resources. … If there are changes in family circumstances or anything, there’s a new financial aid application submitted every year, so based on changes in circumstances plus you factor in the increased sticker price, then there’s a new aid package based on a combination of these circumstances,” Axtell said.
Axtell said that colleges must raise their tuition annually because the costs of labor, faculty and staff salaries, benefits, medical care, utilities and other services the college relies on are all increasing. He said that the increase in revenues must cover these increased costs.
“Whatever is on the expense side is going up, and a lot of those are not discretionary expenses. So on the revenue side, if you don’t bring in additional revenues your budget deficit would go up, and it’s an unsustainable model if you don’t at least try to keep your net revenues covering your expenses,” he said.