Implications of Bucknell’s tuition, and next year’s increase

Aisling Sullivan

Bucknell University comes with a high price tag for a liberal arts education. With the tuition increase for the 2023-2024 school year, Bucknell will be crossing itself off even more high school students’ college lists and negatively affecting diversity on campus. The total comprehensive cost of Bucknell comes to $77,104 for the 2022-2023 school year. 79.64 percent ($61,408) of this cost goes towards tuition, while the remaining parts go to housing, meal plans and activities. The average need-based package is $37,500, which does not even cover three-quarters of the cost of tuition, excluding other fees and charges such as the extra cost of Orientation.

Educational economists Drew Allen and Gregory Wolniak have researched the effects of tuition increases on diversity in higher education. Their 2019 research showed that for every one percent increase in tuition and fees, racial and ethnic diversity dropped by 0.013 percent. With the comprehensive cost coming out to more than $80,000 for the 2023-2024 school year, equaling nearly a 5 percent increase, Bucknell is looking at losing 0.065 percent of diversity amongst the student body in just one year. If the rate at which tuition increases continues to rise, the University faces a much greater loss. Allen and Wolniak have also found that higher tuition rates dissuade low-income students from enrolling in higher education. In addition to decreasing the current racial diversity on campus, tuition increases make it even more difficult for low-income students to enroll in Bucknell and thus decrease socioeconomic diversity on campus.

A need-based financial aid model, rather than a merit-based approach, is a more equitable system to make higher education more available to all students, especially those of lower socioeconomic status. Moreover, awarding merit aid has been shown to be given to the same type of students throughout the years. Adopting a need-based approach would require Bucknell to dramatically increase their financial aid packages over recent increases. Bucknell, it is imperative that you move to a need-based financial aid model and end merit-based scholarships in order to make a liberal arts education available to all.

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