As the financial aid deadline approaches for returning students, many are wondering whether or not the amount of financial aid they receive will be able to balance out the rising tuition at Fairfield.

According to an article in The New York Times by Richard Perez-Pena, in recent years, the nation has experienced “steep increases in college prices and student debt.”

Associate Vice President and Dean of Enrollment Karen Pellegrino acknowledged that just as it has at many other universities, the tuition for undergraduate students at Fairfield has been increasing in recent years. During the 2014-2015 school year, Fairfield’s tuition was $44,250, while for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year, the tuition is $45,350, according to the Office of Admissions.

However, while this number is increasing and will continue to increase each school year, Pellegrino noted that the percentage that tuition has increased each year has actually gone down since the 2011-2012 school year. According to Pellegrino, in the 2011-2012 school year, tuition increased by 4 percent, while in the 2016-2017 school year, tuition is experiencing a 2.49 percent increase.

She went on to explain that compared to Fairfield’s competing institutions, such as Providence College, Boston College and Loyola University Maryland, “our increases [in tuition] as a percentage are actually smaller than almost all of our competitors.”

According to the Office of Admissions, from the 2015-2016 to the 2016-2017 school year, Providence College’s tuition increased by 3.5 percent. Additionally, Boston College’s increased by 4 percent and Loyola University’s increased by 2.8 percent.

In addition, Pellegrino mentioned that the increase in tuition is matched by an increase in the amount of total financial aid given to students. “Although the increases [in tuition] have leveled off in recent years, financial aid is still increasing above the rate that tuition increases,” Pellegrino said, explaining that the amount of financial aid given to students has increased more rapidly than the tuition. In the past couple of years; however, both the increases in tuition and financial aid have been leveling off, providing for more consistent increases in tuition and financial aid, Pellegrino said.

Pellegrino added that the Office of Admissions isn’t consciously choosing to give students more in financial aid in an effort to combat the increasing tuition. Rather, “we recognized that we perhaps had not done as much in terms of financial aid as we needed to, so we had to put more resources into financial aid in order to make this an affordable choice for students.”

Junior Tim Cobau sees this as a trend that has been happening at universities all over the nation, explaining that “while college sticker prices keep increasing, actual prices are much more static.” He added that since many universities have given more in financial aid, while the sticker price of tuition is increasing, the actual price of attending isn’t increasing by much.

However, for Chloe Lazar ‘19, the fact that tuition is increasing by a more consistent and less drastic percentage each year had little impact on her decision to attend Fairfield. “One of the reasons I chose Fairfield was because it was the school that gave me the most money and the leveling off didn’t play any role in my decision,” Lazar said.

Cobau agreed that the rate of increases in tuition had little influence on his decision to attend Fairfield. “Personally this does not impact me that much because I have a good scholarship here and I receive a decent amount of financial aid from both Fairfield and from the government,” Cobau said.

Despite the increasing tuition and corresponding increase in financial aid given, Pellegrino explained why the University has a high sticker price that the majority of students don’t have to pay due to merit scholarships and financial aid.

“There’s something in people’s perception that, people like to get a scholarship. They like to be rewarded in that way. For whatever reason, this makes the school more attractive for prospective students,” Pellegrino said.

For Sarah Foley ‘18, the merit scholarship she received from Fairfield when she was accepted into the University was the deciding factor in choosing Fairfield as her home for the next four years. “I wouldn’t be able to attend Fairfield University if I didn’t have my merit scholarship,” Foley said, saying that for many students, like herself, financial aid and merit scholarships are the only reasons why attending Fairfield is financially possible.

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