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College announces 2019-2020 comprehensive fee: 3.75 percent increase from 2018-2019


On Jan. 24, Grinnell students received an email notifying them of the comprehensive fee increase for the 2019-2020 school year. The fee will for the upcoming school year will be $67,646 ($33,823 per semester), a 3.75 percent increase from the 2018-2019 cost of $65,202 (32,601 per semester). 

According to the breakdown sent in the same email, this reflects a 3.75 percent increase in the categories of tuition, room, and board, and a three percent increase in the student activity fee as recommended by the Student Government Association and Student Publications and Radio Committee treasurers. Last year, the increase from the 2017-2018 to 2018-2019 school years was 3.31 percent. 

According to Brad Lindberg, assistant vice president for enrollment at the College, this increase is on par with increases he has observed in previous years. He wrote in an email to The S&B, “Over the past five years, the comprehensive fee increase has remained relatively stable, between 3.1 [percent] and 4.0 [percent].  This year’s increase is very similar to those we have seen during my time at Grinnell.”

Lindberg also addressed the fact that the loan amount students are able take out has increased along with the comprehensive fee. 

“At Grinnell, our financial aid program is specifically designed to respond to increases in the comprehensive fee. As the comprehensive fee increases, so too does the grant assistance offered to students with need based financial aid to help offset the increase in price,” Lindberg wrote. “If a family’s financial circumstances remain consistent, a student should expect an increase in their grant aid at Grinnell … Students may also choose to borrow a small amount of additional loan should they need those funds to help cover their education costs.”

Although it was not mentioned in the special campus memo that announced the fee increase, total cost for each student may vary slightly due to meal plan preferences.

The amount in the “Board” category in the breakdown shown in the email is representative solely of the cost of the Full and Any 15 Meals Plus meal plans, which are required for first-years only. Other meal plans, which last year ranged from a yearly cost of $1,790 to $6,270, as opposed to last year’s Full and Any 15 Plus plans’ cost of $6,760. The Dining section of the Grinnell website has not yet been updated to reflect the 2019-2020 fee increase.

The all-campus email regarding the fee, which was signed by President Raymond Kington, said that “through the careful stewardship of our resources, including our endowment, and the generosity of our donors, we are able to keep our comprehensive fee significantly lower than our actual operating costs. No student pays the actual, full cost of their education.” 

An email listed items the College hopes to accomplish with the fee increase, with items such as the Grinnell “evolving student-centered liberal arts curriculum” as well as internships, externships, fellowships, and service opportunity. In addition, according to the list, the fee will support technology and databases available on campus, and it will also fund the continuing design “all spaces on the campus, to enhance the academic, social, and environmental success of the Grinnell College community.”

Regarding the above statement, Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Joe Bagnoli wrote in an email to the S&B, “Our comprehensive fee is set at more than $16,000 lower than the actual cost of education for each student at Grinnell. Even those who do not receive financial aid at Grinnell, therefore, receive a built-in scholarship (we call it a ‘Legacy Award’) since we don’t charge anyone the full cost of providing education.”

The email to students concluded, “We remain committed to our core mission: to provide a diverse, accessible, and outstanding education for our current and future students.”

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