Oberlin Tuition Hike an Injustice

Zachery Crowell, SLAC Co-Chair

To the Editor:

Beginning next year, the cost to attend Oberlin will be a staggering $64,224. This price is $2,436 more than the current $61,788 to attend. This price hike translates into a four percent increase over one year, which is well over twice the current rate of inflation. What can the justification be for raising prices? We are already one of the most expensive institutions in the United States. More precisely, this year we ranked 7th in tuition and 15th in total cost of attendance. Our financial situation has only improved since 2009. In fact, our endowment is currently up at $808 million or $280,000 per student, while we complete a second multi-million dollar construction project in just under two years. Thus, what justification remains for raising prices by so much next year?

It’s clear that most students do not pay full price. However, net prices per year were still on average $37,000 for all students and $11,000 for low-income students (i.e. those with family incomes below $30,000). These figures were last published for the 2012–2013 school year and so are undoubtedly higher today. Moreover, both economic and racial diversity at this college are wanting while the abnormally high price to attend Oberlin almost certainly depresses diversity here.

Despite the obfuscating nature of college costs, prices have continuously gone up for nearly every student at Oberlin. However, this trend should surprise no one, as the most recent strategic plan states, “[Oberlin’s] most critical financial priority must be to realize more net tuition revenue per student.” The current lack of financial accessibility and want of diversity belies the history and values of our community.

There has to be a time when we come together as a student body and call for a more affordable college that welcomes more low-income and minority students than it does now. Now is that time. This Sunday at 8 p.m., we invite everyone to attend a planning meeting in Wilder 101 and then a general assembly on Saturday the 18, to draft a better direction for Oberlin — an alternative strategic plan. Only when we act as an unshakable union of students will we bring about a better future where higher education becomes accessible to all and we no longer submerge whole generations in a trillion-dollar sea of student debt.

–Zachery Crowell

SLAC Co-Chair