STOP DISPROPORTIONATE TUITION INCREASES AT BARD COLLEGE

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This letter is in regards to the recent $3,520.00 increase in the cost of attendance at Bard College. This rise in price was a flat increase on all student bills, regardless of individual income-level and need-based aid currently received. For students paying full tuition, this is a 4.8 percent increase in their cost of attendance. For low-income students, this can mean upwards of a 100 percent increase in their yearly bill. We believe this is an unethical financial burden to place on low-income students without adjusting their financial aid packages accordingly.

We don’t understand why this increase in cost of attendance did not coincide with an increase in financial assistance. The price increase was not a percentage-based one. Meaning, students with higher income levels pay more of the tuition spike than students with less financial resources. Nor were there increases in Bard financial aid and scholarship. We think it is directly contradictory to Bard’s self-proclaimed status as a “need-aware” institution to significantly increase the cost of attendance without offering additional financial resources to the students who most need assistance.

We are concerned for the ability of low-income students to pay for this coming year. For students with limited financial resources, both a tuition and room and board increase is not easily acquired before the academic year begins. For many low-income families, paying for Bard is not a choice of “cutting back on luxuries”.  It’s making sacrifices that greatly affect the quality of life for both the students and their families—food, health care, and rent. Heating homes in the winter and keeping on the lights. Paying for car insurance and gas to commute to work everyday. A price increase of this magnitude has the potential to sink families from a financial pit into a financial black hole. For low-income international students, who don’t qualify for federal aid and are not permitted to seek employment off campus under the F-1 student visa, this increase may make returning to Bard impossible. Bard students and families should not be forced to choose between sustaining themselves now and investing in the education of their children.

Students, already thousands of dollars in debt, have been told to take out additional loans to cover the cost. Students are desperately scrambling, reaching out to relatives for assistance, trading precious time with family to pick up extra shifts at work, sacrificing opportunities for summer internships in lieu of more lucrative service jobs, to come up with 3,520.00 in a matter of weeks.

Students have been individually “welcomed to submit an appeal letter requesting additional scholarship” if they feel their “circumstances warrant additional aid.” We believe all low-income students paying less than $15,000.00 a year to attend Bard are now faced with an seemingly insurmountable financial burden. We believe that the pressure, anxiety, and financial stress this increase has already placed on low-income students warrants additional aid.

We believe students should be placed with the same percentage of burden as the wealthiest students at Bard (4.8 percent), not the same numerical increase as those students. We are appealing as a collective because payment of education should not be a constant cause of anxiety for Bard students.



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