With students facing a nearly ten percent increase in tuition
for next year, many are concerned that Mills is becoming
unaffordable at a time when many other doors to education are also
Notification of the decision, made by the Board of Trustees, was
sent out in early March. With the education cuts proposed by Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, including possibly ending Cal Grants for new
students, many are asking why the board would choose to make
attending Mills that much more costly.
This year’s $2250 increase follows the trend of recent years.
Tuition was increased $2000 for the 2003-2004 term, and $1500 each
of the two years before. By comparison, tuition remained at $14,100
for three years from fall 1992 through the spring 1995, and then
increased only $430 for the 1995-1996 term.
President Janet Holmgren said that Mills is prepared to address
students concerned about being able to return. “We are going to be
increasing the financial aid budget as well,” she said. “We
definitely want to help with the gap this creates, and we don’t
want any student to not return because of this.”
Students around campus are talking about the impact this may
have on their education.
“I think it sucks, because once we’re in it’s hard to transfer
out,” said Christina Ray, a junior. “But compared to the UC/CSU
situation, it’s not bad.”
Alisha Nguyen, a junior who just started at Mills this semester,
said, “I just wonder where all the money’s going. I see all these
nice buildings and think, are we paying for the renovations?”
One freshwoman, who asked not to be named, said that she hopes
she can stay, but that her parents told her it might not be
possible. She said many others around her dorm are also saying they
might not be able to return.
Shaila Zamora, a sophomore, expressed her concern in an email to
student news that “traditionally marginalized women of color,
single mothers, and poor women” will be the most affected by the
increase. She and others fear that higher fees will result in a
less diverse student body.
Emily Ackerman, a junior, said she doesn’t think Mills
advertises sufficiently to bring in new students. “Who really knows
about Mills? We’re suffering because of their poor business
Holmgren said that the recent trend is the result of a change in
the approach the trustees are taking to insure the financial
stability of the College. In the early 1990s, when the country was
in a recession, she said the Board was taking different steps to
insure students could attend, and that students at that time did
not receive as much financial assistance from Mills. “And by the
mid ’90s, we were significantly behind other similar institutions
as far as tuition fees,” said Holmgren.
“We are also reserving some funds for the possibility of Cal
Grant reductions,” Holmgren said. She said other proposals are also
being made regarding Cal Grants. One is from the Association of
Independent Colleges and Universities, of which Mills is a member,
recommending that aid be distributed differently, with higher funds
for those closer to graduating.
“College finance is such a complicated matter,” Holmgren said.
“Ultimately, it’s the Board of Trustees that makes decisions about
the college budget…they felt it was a wise decision to increase
tuition and increase financial aid at the same time.”
Ophelia Stringer, a junior, said, “With more money they should
be creating more parking spaces.”