As an Ithaca College/Park School graduate, I actively read The Ithacan to keep up with the goings-on at my alma mater. I recently read the article entitled, “Ithaca College sees lowest enrollment since 2008,” and was not surprised by what I saw. However, I feel it fair to point out that the article was missing a discussion of one giant factor.
The cost of tuition and room and board at Ithaca College has surged to $58,798, per the school’s website. By comparison, during my final year on campus in 2009-10, that number was $44,270, which means an increase of nearly 25% in less than a decade. While Ithaca is far from the only private school to see tuition rise at an alarming rate, and that the college’s financial aid office ensures many students do not pay the full amount, that’s a jarring sticker price that undoubtedly steers many students away.
Four-year educations from Elon University and Marist College, schools that were both mentioned as comparable institutions of higher learning in the article, both cost significantly less than the one Ithaca College offers. Elon’s $46,670 price tag is nearly 21% less than Ithaca’s, while Marist’s $51,090 rate is 13% less. At that rate, over the course of four years, an education at Elon winds up being nearly $50,000 cheaper, while Marist’s discount totals a bit more than $30,000.
Furthermore, this does not even begin to discuss the effects of New York State’s new policy that offers free tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools, which went into law before the 2017-18 school year. Perhaps the cross-section of high school seniors considering both Ithaca College and a public school isn’t that large in size, but it wouldn’t be surprising if that played a role in the lower number.
As someone who worked at a private college for two years after graduation, I understand that many factors go into a school’s final enrollment count. I am also pleased to see that the college is doing things to increase diversity, which can only help its long-term prospects. However, let’s not pretend that the greed infecting many colleges all around the country has stayed away from the South Hill, and let’s not ignore that that’s probably priced out many students who may have enrolled had the price tag been lower.
Andrew Champagne ’10