Update: 4:35 p.m.
President Beth Dobkin publicly responded to student questions and concerns Monday through an email sent out to undergraduates.
“For the past several years, expenses at Westminster have exceeded revenues,” Dobkin wrote. “During that time, the College prioritized keeping tuition increases very low and responded by eliminating staff and faculty positions, reducing compensation for all employees, cutting expenses, and spending institutional reserves.”
The administration’s priorities moving forward include fundraising opportunities to support additional scholarships, endowments and student facilities, according to the email.
Dobkin said administration has not yet finalized decisions for increasing aid to returning students for next academic year.
Westminster College students are speaking out on social media in response to a recent tuition increase planned for the next academic year. An anonymous Instagram account, @westministudentsspeakout, created a survey gathering student reactions to the 8.5% tuition hike.
The social media page has received a substantive amount of traffic, gaining 260 followers in five days. According to the page, 357 respondents filled out the survey which is approximately 18% of the student body.
Of those 357, 92.1% reported they depend on scholarships to afford tuition. The survey didn’t specify whether these are merit-based or need-based scholarships.
Another 62.7% reported the possibility that the increase will “jeopardize their continued attendance.” The page also posted direct messages it received from anonymous students.
“Raising the tuition as a means to (essentially) remain ‘competitive’ reveals a fundamental flaw in Westminster’s own creed,” one comment reads.
Some also expressed concerns about whether they will be able to attend in the future with the tuition increase.
“If they raise tuition without raising academic merit scholarships… I will face the possibility of having to withdraw […] This goes way beyond money. It is about mental health, opportunity, and students who worked hard at something. This school promised a chance,” reads another comment.
The administration hasn’t publicly responded to student questions and comments apart from the initial announcement.
*The survey mentioned in the story was conducted through the @westministudentsspeakout Instagram page and may not be indicative of the entire student body.