Letter to the Editor: The recent tuition increase will eliminate the Middle-Class Bucknellian

Zane Hensal

In February 2023, it was announced that Bucknell would be increasing their tuition rates to over $80k, an
almost 5 percent increase in comparison to last year’s cost. The tuition hike income was earmarked for things
such as employee bonuses and facility upgrades. While those are all acceptable reasons to raise costs, it’s
important to realize that by doing this, the university is essentially making it impossible for middle class
Bucknellians to continue their education at Bucknell.

In 2021, the median household income was $70,784, around $10,000 less than what it will cost to attend
Bucknell University for the 2023/2024 academic year. The average need-based grant offered by the
University is around $42,000, meaning that next year an average person can consider having to get loans
roughly around $38,000 per year for one year at Bucknell University, give or take a few thousand.

My concern is that the class of 2026 had their financial aid determined based on their financial situation in
2020. This means that some students may have been awarded grants based on their parents’ wages (or
lack thereof), which may have been impacted by COVID-19. However, since most of those wages
rebounded in 2021, the updated ’23/’24 financial aid offer based on the FAFSA and CSS profile from
2021 may be lower, putting an increasing strain on middle-class students who were previously eligible for
Pell grants or high need-based grants. Many middle-class students, including myself, were aware that
their out-of-pocket costs would increase this year, but the tuition hike has made the situation even worse.
Furthermore, the fact the bill isn’t released until June and is due in August makes it a lot more difficult for
a student to try and understand their financial situation. Most middle-class families today are not going to
be able to afford the average $38,000 in student loans per year.

The University will lose current and prospective students over this increase. They cannot continue to try
and promote diversity and inclusion if they do not begin to open the door to those of different
socioeconomic backgrounds, and, in my opinion, the recent price hike just sealed that door for good.

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