President's Message to the Drew Community Regarding Tuition Reset, 9/10/17.
Dear members of the Drew community,
Let’s be clear—college tuition is too high. So we’re lowering our tuition by 20%.
Our current published tuition price makes it seem as if the value of a Drew education is beyond the reach of many families. But the reality is that most students and families do not pay the full tuition price thanks to the generous financial aid that Drew offers. In 2018–19, we estimate that 72% of our students will receive need-based aid, and we will offer about $32 million in institutional grants and scholarships. Our average total financial aid award will be about $30,000 and the average scholarship or grant about $20,000.
The benefits of a Drew education are clear to our alums, our students, and our parents. Drew professors have real one-on-one mentoring relationships with students in the classroom and in the real world, our connections to the community and the region extend our classrooms, and our alums attend prestigious graduate schools and build successful careers.
The time has come for Drew to be clear about its tuition.
So let’s be clear. Effective for academic year 2018–19, Drew’s tuition will be lowered by 20%—about $10,000—narrowing the gap between the actual tuition charge and the amount many families pay. This move will make Drew’s true tuition, and our true value, more clear to more families.
For fall 2018–19, tuition will be $38,668 (before financial aid), down from $48,336 this year.
The celebration of the University’s 150th year is the right time to take this step, from a position of strength and growth. Drew is growing. We’ve experienced a 27% increase in incoming students in three years, and an increase of 50% in transfer students in four years. First-to-second-year retention has increased from 76 to 87% in four years. Drew recently welcomed the largest class of international students in its history, and the number of international students has grown 195% in four years. The University now ranks 32nd nationwide in the number of international students among all liberal arts colleges.
We have invested, and will continue to invest, in Drew’s strengths. Recently launched liberal arts majors and minors include media and communications, creative writing, film studies, data science, and statistics. New professionally focused combined degree programs, in partnership with master’s and doctoral universities, include nursing, software engineering, law, and teaching. The number of New York City semesters has doubled, for a total of six, with the newest additions in Communications and Media, Theatre, and Social Entrepreneurship. We’ve welcomed men’s and women’s golf as new intercollegiate sports, and a brand new Commons Dining Hall offers healthy, varied, and continuous meal options in a lovely setting.
Drew’s mission calls us to educate a diverse community of learners. That diversity includes economic diversity. The change in Drew’s tuition will help prospective students take a clear look at the true cost of a Drew education, and more importantly at the value and excellence that the University has to offer.
I invite you to review our FAQs and information about what to do if you have more questions.
A: The prevailing and understandable sentiment is that college tuition generally is too high and that Drew’s tuition specifically is too high. It is very difficult for families to assess the value of a Drew University education before they apply because there is currently a very large “disconnect” between the “sticker price” of our tuition and what students and families actually pay, which is considerably less. The true cost of college for any individual family is the full tuition price minus any need-based and merit aid that a student receives, and that true cost differs by family. Drew manages affordability by providing extensive merit and need-based aid, even more aid than provided by our peer and competitor institutions. We know we are successful in these efforts because our graduates leave with a lower loan burden than those graduating from most other institutions in New Jersey.
Drew will continue to manage affordability by providing generous financial aid. Reducing the full tuition price will narrow the gap between the “top line” sticker price and the “bottom line” net price. Additionally, a lower tuition price will cause more families to consider Drew in the first place because our tuition will be more in line with (or better than) that of our peers and competitors. Once Drew is under consideration, each family can assess for themselves the financial aid package that Drew offers.
Effective academic year 2018–19, Drew’s full tuition price (before financial aid) will decrease by 20% to $38,668, down from $48,336 this year.
A: Drew’s tuition reset lowers tuition by 20%. Room, board and fees are not being reset.
A: The tuition reset goes into effect for the 2018–19 academic year.
A: The tuition “sticker price” will be reset for every continuing and new student. For continuing students, the commitment to a published tuition price of $38,668 means that they will pay less next year than they would have paid after a typical increase (which has been 3%/year for several years), assuming no significant changes in a family’s financial circumstances. What an individual family will pay, as always, will be impacted by their students’ need and financial aid. Every continuing student will receive customized information about their estimated costs and aid for 2018–19 in the mail by early November 2017, and staff will be available to answer individual questions at that time.
A: Like most private colleges and universities, Drew’s financial model has been based on a high “sticker price” and high financial aid. This means that many students do not pay the advertised tuition price thanks to financial assistance—the amount of merit and need-based aid that is subtracted from the tuition price.
With the reset, Drew is moving away from the high tuition/high aid model and narrowing the gap between the actual tuition charge and the amount many families pay after financial aid. This brings greater transparency to the cost of higher education—and allows more families who may have been deterred by the higher price to access the benefits of a Drew education.
Merit scholarships and other aid will continue to make it possible for you to afford Drew. With a lower published price, the need for financial aid in general will be lower, so merit and need-based grant aid from Drew will necessarily be less than it would have been under a higher price.
Every continuing student will receive customized information about their estimated costs and aid for 2018–19 in the mail by early November 2017, and staff will be available to answer questions about individual circumstances at that time.
A: Drew has been building on a strong foundation by expanding and improving what it does, and that will continue. From new majors and minors, combined degree programs and New York City semesters; to enhancing our First Year Program by turning New York City into a classroom; to creating popular, new courses; to expanding our internship and other hands-on, real-world opportunities; to investing in capital projects; to ensuring that an ethos of customer service is embedded in what it does every day, Drew will continue to strategically innovate to ensure that it meets the needs of its students and to guarantee excellence.
A: No. As Drew enters its 150th year, it has experienced significant growth. In the last few years, there has been a 27% increase in incoming undergraduate students, a 50% increase in transfer students, a 195% increase in international students and an 11 point jump in our retention rate. And Drew is investing in the future through several new undergraduate majors and minors, new combined degree programs, new New York City semesters and new capital projects. Unrelated to the reset, Drew is also working to be more efficient in operations, so that even more resources are directed toward new academic initiatives and student success.
A: Drew will provide about $32 million annually in scholarships and grants in 2018–19, and about 72% of our students will receive need-based financial aid. Drew’s average total financial aid award next year will be about $30,000 and its average scholarship/grant will be about $20,000. Drew is among the top 20% of schools nationwide with students with the lowest debt, is recognized as a top school in New Jersey for low-income students and was named a “Best Bang for the Buck” school by Washington Monthly.
A: A Drew education is more valuable than ever. Building on a strong foundation, Drew has been investing, and will continue to invest, in the strengths of a Drew education—new majors and minors, new combined degree programs and New York City semesters, an enhanced First Year Program, expanded internship and other hands-on, real-world opportunities, and investment in capital projects and our people. The Princeton Review twice named Drew one of only 50 “Colleges that Create Futures,” and that kind of success and recognition will continue.
A: The tuition reset currently affects Drew undergraduate tuition only, although Drew is working on initiatives that enhance the clarity and transparency of the cost of graduate education at the two graduate schools as well.
A: Drew has experienced a 27% increase in incoming students in the last three years. Some additional enrollment growth is expected as students and families—especially middle-class families who may not have qualified for need-based aid—are encouraged to apply to and enroll in Drew now that its true tuition, and true value, is more clear.
A: It is anticipated that Drew’s strong student retention rate will increase with the tuition reset. Some students leave Drew for financial reasons, and a 20% reduction in the price of tuition allows more students to focus on their studies rather than their tuition bill.
A: The tuition reset does not affect the tuition remission benefit because remission covers full Drew tuition for dependents’ attendance at Drew.
A: Drew employees currently participating in the faculty/staff tuition grant benefit are grandfathered. Their child would continue to be eligible for the 42% education benefit based on the 2017–18 academic year’s tuition of $48,336. This represents a maximum education benefit per academic year of $20,301. This $20,301 benefit would remain available to the currently participating student for up to four academic years, per the current policy. All other aspects of the current policy remain in force.
If an eligible employee’s child enrolls for the first time at another institution in either fall semester 2018 or fall semester 2019, the above grandfathered conditions apply.
For students beginning college in the fall semester 2020 and beyond, the 42% maximum education benefit for eligible students enrolled at other institutions will be calculated based on Drew’s tuition at that time. This means that the maximum benefit will again rise alongside Drew’s tuition.
A: The reset tuition will have no impact on grants through the Tuition Exchange or CIC Tuition Exchange programs.
A: The need for, and strong appreciation of, donations for scholarships that aid Drew students is greater than ever. Conversations with alums and donors often reveal concerns about Drew’s price, so the reset may spur giving from alumni who appreciate its response to this concern.
A: This change was not made sooner for several reasons. The first and most simple is that a $50K published tuition price is unsustainable, but the current administration has been in place for only about three years. It was imperative that they understood Drew’s enrollment and financial aid models over a period of years, and that enrollment was stabilized and more predictable before such an important change was made. Drew’s enrollment is now stable and growing. Another important reason for the timing of the reset, and for why it wasn’t done sooner, is that there was confidence that, despite the high sticker price, students who enrolled in Drew were getting a high value for their actual individual cost after financial aid. Drew has been able to maintain and increase financial aid for each new beginning cohort of students as the published price increased. However, the belief was that this model was not sustainable.
A: This question is understandable, but the answer is “no.” Students and alums who attended Drew while the published price was higher received financial aid that was proportional to the higher price. They received the same high-quality Drew education and were provided with strong financial support.
A: The Drew University Board of Trustees had expressed concerns about the cost of college, and Drew’s high tuition generally. University leadership agreed with the Board that a tuition reset at Drew needed to be explored to ensure that prospective students did not reject Drew as an affordable option because of the published price. It was also imperative that Drew implement a reset plan from a position of strength in enrollment—stable and growing. Beginning early in 2017, the leadership team worked to provide the Board with general research information about the cost of college, other colleges’ reset experience and the implications of a potential reset for Drew. In May 2017, the Board endorsed a reset in concept and charged the leadership team with development of a final plan. The leadership team responded to that charge by further developing its research, focusing on financial models, market impact and communications, and worked with two internal committees with campus-wide representation to assess the concept—the Annual Planning and Budgeting Council and the (Strategic Plan) Research Working Group. Announcements of a reset typically follow a clear and confidential timeline to maximize impact on the following admission cycle, so the Board’s approval of the reset was scheduled so that it could be announced immediately thereafter. On September 8, 2017, the Board voted to approve the reset, and Drew announced it on September 10, 2017.
A: Anyone with general questions about the tuition reset can send an email via the form below or call our hotline at 973-408-3940 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After normal business hours, please leave a message, and your call will be returned the next business day. Continuing students with situation-specific questions are encouraged to wait until early November to receive their customized letter, when details for each student will be available, and financial aid staff can offer personal information.
Drew students are invited to ask general questions at an Information Session with President MaryAnn Baenninger on September 11 at 5:15 p.m. in Crawford Hall.
Drew faculty and staff are invited to ask general questions at an Information Session with President MaryAnn Baenninger on September 11 at 4:15 p.m. in Crawford Hall.