Mills College slashes tuition 36 percent for 2018 school year amid financial crisis
Mills College, the financially struggling Oakland women’s college, will cut tuition a whopping 36 percent in 2018.
The unexpected move comes as the college grapples with a multimilliondollar deficit and as both the University of California and California State University raise their tuition for the first time in years.
But the school thinks the shift will actually help increase enrollment.
“It’s a growth measure,” the college’s president, Elizabeth Hillman, said during a phone interview.
Tuition had been $44,765, a figure that gave sticker shock to a number of families who might have dismissed the school as too expensive. But around 95 percent of students received financial aid, meaning few actually paid that full price. By lowering the sticker price to $28,765, the school hopes it will attract new interest.
Room and board costs will add about $17,000, but the total cost will still be significantly lower than it has been in recent years and a little closer to the cost of attending California’s public universities. UC’s in- state tuition is around $13,000, with total costs for in-state students living on campus running around $35,000, while in-state CSU students pay about $6,000, or around $30,000 for living and dining on campus.
“It’s exciting to think about us being so clear about what our costs are and reaching people we haven’t been able to reach otherwise,” Hillman said.
The actual out- of-pocket cost for most students won’t change all that much. No student will see an increase, Hillman promised, with most seeing a slight decrease. In other words, the change won’t necessarily save most students a lot of money, but it will bring posted tuition prices and what students actually pay more in line with each other.
Women and particularly women of color, who make up more than half of Mills’ 1,300 students, take on more student debt than men, and tend to pay it back slower. “We’re concerned about the debt burdens that women take on,” Hillman said.
The tuition reduction will affect undergraduate students and take effect in fall 2018. As of last year, graduate students at Mills pay by the unit.
In May, facing a $9.1 million deficit, Mills declared a financial emergency for the first time in its 165-year history. Hillman implemented a number of changes, including laying off tenured professors and cutting entire departments. Hillman said the school has cut the deficit by about half this school year and has met its projected enrollment targets.
“We feel good about the appeal of Mills,” she said.
Mills Hall is one of the original buildings at Mills College in Oakland. The school will reduce tuition for undergraduate students 36 percent beginning in fall 2018.