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Open letter from President Higdon

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education released college cost statistics that showed Connecticut College as having the most expensive tuition in the nation. I want to let you know, however, that the list is based on two-year-old data, and does not accurately reflect the College's position today. The College's tuition increases over the past two years have been the lowest in decades and below the national average.

The Education Department shows us as No. 1 for tuition, but since we are a residential college the more relevant number is total cost of attendance, our comprehensive fee. In a comparison of total cost, Connecticut College is No. 22 this year, improved from No. 15 the year before.

I also want to stress these points:

• We maintain a strong commitment to need-based financial aid. When the Education Department factored in financial aid to show average net cost, Connecticut College moved to No. 299.

• Even students who pay the full "sticker price" receive a generous subsidy from the College. The comprehensive fee reflects only 83 percent of the actual cost of education. The remainder is paid for through income from the endowment and gifts to the college.

• The cost of a Connecticut College education reflects an extraordinary level of quality and personalization. Few schools in the country can match our 9 to 1 student faculty ratio, our small classes, our nationally ranked career office or the 80 percent of our students who take advantage of college-funded internships.

• Gifts to the College support ongoing investment, including newly renovated classrooms and residence halls, a wide range of international programs and a state-of-the-art science building that will open this fall. In the $200 million Campaign for Connecticut College, now entering its final 12 months, the College has prioritized fundraising for financial aid, residential education, internationalization and science education.

• In 2011-12, our 3.5 percent increase in the comprehensive fee was a full percentage point below the national average of 4.5 percent. Early information suggests that our 2012-13 increase of 3.3 percent is also on the lower end of the spectrum.

• The College faces strong cost pressures in such areas as healthcare, energy and technology. To offset these, in the last few years, we have reduced print publications, signed long-term energy contracts, restructured prescription coverage for employees, refinanced long-term debt at lower interest rates, and introduced new management software to our food service operation. Most recently, we have created a new procurement function to ensure that our purchasing decisions are highest value and lowest cost.

We continue to review our operations and work to manage the resources of the College wisely. We are very aware of the pressures faced by families in this economy and the sacrifices that students and their families make to attend Connecticut College. Please be assured that at every turn our goal is to provide an outstanding education that prepares our students for lives of meaning and purpose-and makes our alumni proud of their alma mater.


Lee Higdon

Please note, the U.S. Department of Education reports are available here.


June 14, 2012

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