Thomas Nieman, Staff Writer
As a way to address the financial concerns of students and their families brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Utica College decided to freeze tuition for all undergraduate and graduate students for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Planning committees and administrators made attempts to maintain the college experience as much as possible while ensuring the health and safety of everyone on campus. However, easing financial strains for students and families remained a top priority.
“When we were discussing the budget and plans for 2020-2021 we knew that a tuition increase would add to the burden that our families were facing as COVID-19 rates were increasing across the state,” said Jeffery Gates, senior vice president for Student Life and Enrollment Management.
About 56% of college students are unable to afford their college tuition as a consequence of COVID-19, according to a survey by One Class, which polled more than 10,000 current freshmen, sophomores and juniors from 200-plus colleges and universities across the country.
A separate survey by NitroCollege found that 55% of high school seniors and 69% of parents of high school seniors said their ability to pay for college was impacted due to COVID-19.
“The college made the decision to hold tuition flat as another way to further our commitment to college attainment and affordability,” Gates said. “It was at the same time when we added the book bundle to further save students money this year by lowering the overall cost of attendance.”
Junior Isabella Gilbert said UC has made a smart decision compared to what other schools have done.
“I wasn’t surprised considering how COVID impacted many people of all economic backgrounds,” Gilbert said. “You still want people to come back to your campus and still afford to go to school.”
Other local colleges in the region have taken similar initiatives. Mohawk Valley Community College, SUNY Morrisville, SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Polytechnic Institute did not show any increases in tuition, according to their respective websites.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of both economics and health has been significant on all of our lives,” said Pamela J. Salmon, vice president for Financial Affairs and Treasurer. “While there are a multitude of factors surrounding this pandemic that have caused significant stress and anxiety for our students and families, easing the financial burden with a tuition freeze was just one way of our supporting students, and quite frankly was the right thing to do.”