Bowdoin College announced on Monday that beginning next fall, the school aims to increase the available amount of financial aid, projecting $3.5 million more in the annual budget.

Tuition at Bowdoin College for the 2019-20 academic year was around $71,700 and in the same year the college had a $45 million financial aid budget.

The cost of attendance did not increase in 2020-21. Since the 2009-10 academic year, however, tuition has increased an average 3.2% per year. The college plans to announce the projected 2021-22 fee in May.

According to Bowdoin’s Senior Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Student Aid Whitney Soule, the increase in financial aid will be distributed with an emphasis on low- and middle-income families.

“We expect to spend about $52 million in financial aid for the 2021-22 year,” Soule wrote in an email. “The proportion of Bowdoin students who are supported by Bowdoin financial aid continues to increase each year as the College continues to increase diversity across multiple dimensions.”

Bowdoin had 1,777 students enrolled for the most recent fall semester. Of that, 48.5% were men, 51.5% women and 36.1% students of color. The student body is made up of 7.2% international students, and 10.2% students from Maine.

For the class of 2024, Soule said that 16% are the first generation in their families to attend a four-year school and 36% are students of color.

This year just under half of the students enrolled at Bowdoin received aid, with grants that ranged from $1,200 to $73,800 and averaged around $47,500.

“The number of students who qualify for need-based aid has typically increased annually over the last decade, as has the average grant, money that does not have to be repaid,” Soule said.

Bowdoin operates through need-blind admissions and has for about three decades, meaning that students are selected regardless of their financial situation.

2019 Bowdoin College graduate Tess Hall said she had a complicated financial relationship with the college.

“Initially the reason I went to Bowdoin was because they offered the most out of any of the other schools I was accepted to,” Hall said.

Hall said that, later on, however, her sister ended up dropping out of college, resulting in a significant reduction of her aid because her family no longer had two kids in college.

“It ended up being something that was super, super unaffordable,” Hall said. “I was considering transferring.”

Hall said that, after talking with the financial aid office, she eventually ended up taking out loans. Hall said, while she would ultimately like to see the college lower tuition costs, she is glad to see Bowdoin allocating more resources to financial aid.

According to Soule, the increase in financial aid funding came from alum donations and returns from the college’s endowment.

“Our goal is to make sure that the students who are admitted to Bowdoin are able to enroll and embrace the full experience, without extreme financial burden or loan debt to complete their education,” Soule wrote.

According to a 2019 report from The Institute for College Access and Success, an education research organization, 62% of seniors who graduated from public or private universities in 2019 had student loan debt averaging $28,950.


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