Lesley University Changes Undergraduate Tuition Pricing Model

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New model seeks to extend educational opportunities at Lesley to more families

Lesley University annouces a new undergraduate tuition pricing model.

Once we began to study the issue, there was really no question. As a nonprofit institution with an obligation to serve the public good, we knew we had to make a change.

Long an innovator in teacher preparation, human services and the arts, Lesley University announces it is changing its undergraduate tuition pricing model.

“Average family income has declined since the onset of the recession, understandably making most families very sensitive to price. According to one study, more than 50 percent of students look at college costs based on the advertised price, without learning about institutional financial aid,” said Dr. Joseph B. Moore, president of Lesley University. “Our high list price intimidates many students and parents, and we need to change that to continue to serve an economically diverse student body.”

The real objective is to reduce the tuition price and the tuition discounting so that more people see the actual cost of attending Lesley, which is a lower cost than most people realize. Lesley University has two undergraduate schools: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with current tuition of $32,000; and the College of Art and Design with current tuition of $30,600. Effective fall 2014, the tuition rate at both schools will be $24,000.

“It’s important to note that the annual cost of education for most current Lesley students will remain unchanged,” said President Moore. “The vast majority of our undergraduate students receive institutional aid. We will reduce the tuition price and institutional aid so that list price is more closely aligned with real cost. All students will continue to receive the full benefits of our institutional aid promise to them.”

Higher education tuition rates are increasing faster than average family income and financial capacity. The pricing model for higher education has become too complex, and sticker shock dissuades many people from pursuing higher education at a time when a college degree significantly enhances career opportunities and earnings, as well as access to health care and retirement systems.

“Ever-increasing tuition rates and discounts are leaving too many people behind. We don’t believe the current model of high tuition and high aid can continue to work for our university and for the families we serve,” said Lesley University Board Chair, Deborah Raizes. “Once we began to study the issue, there was really no question. As a nonprofit institution with an obligation to serve the public good, we knew we had to make a change.”

Vice President for Enrollment Management Tim Robison noted that the majority of students at Lesley and many other private universities rely on institutional aid to make higher education affordable. However, the high list price turns many potential students away from pursuing a private university education because they think they can’t afford it. They never learn about the aid that could reduce that list price.

Lesley’s new pricing model more closely aligns the university’s tuition price with real costs. Any tuition increases in the future will be applied to the new, lower tuition rate. That translates into smaller increases for students and their families from 2014-2015 until degree completion.

“This is not a comprehensive solution to the affordability barriers that many American families are facing,” said President Moore. “It is a modest change in our tuition model that may help more families consider Lesley as an educational option, but we and all the various sectors of American higher education have much more work to do to make college affordable for more people.”

Lesley University serves 7,500 students per year, has an endowment of $173 million, and an A- rating from Standard and Poor’s. In addition to a transformative gift of $136 million, in the past decade Lesley has added a third campus in Cambridge (its Brattle Campus), acquired 15 new buildings, including two newly-constructed residence halls, and is currently in the process of building a $48 million arts center in Porter Square, Cambridge, MA.

Building on these strengths, this pricing change supports Lesley University’s mission to provide an educational experience of the highest quality to an economically diverse student body.

Recent coverage of Lesley’s innovative new undergraduate tuition model:

  • Read Lesley President Joseph Moore's Op-Ed in The Boston Globe Opinion pages.
  • Hear President Moore on Radio Boston sharing his insights on the new undergraduate tuition plan and bringing transparency back to tuition costs.
  • Listen to the full recording of President Moore’s interview with WGBH News.

Lesley University educates more than 7,500 women and men a year, and is one of the nation's largest providers of graduate professional education opportunities to K-12 educators, boasting 45,000 education alumni, and over 82,000 alumni in all. Anchored by a strong liberal arts curriculum, Lesley offers undergraduate and graduate programs in education, the arts, human services, and the environment at its Cambridge and Boston campuses, online, and in a number of states. Lesley University prepares individuals for lives and careers that make a difference, and serves the evolving needs of students and a diverse society through innovative programs and pedagogy, high quality instruction, scholarship, advocacy, and outreach.

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John Sullivan
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