Colby College’s newest graduates toss their mortarboards Sunday morning in front of Miller Library after receiving their diplomas during the college’s graduation ceremony on Mayflower Hill in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — Colby College has announced a new financial aid program that will put a cap on tuition, and room and board costs for families of various income levels to help make costs affordable.

The program, to be implemented starting with the Class of 2029, is possible because of a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor. The funding helps to expand the college’s Fair Shot Fund and creates a new model for supporting families of middle income whose children are admitted to the Colby, the college said in a statement.

The Fair Shot Fund is aimed at recruiting and supporting extraordinary students by removing financial barriers that would otherwise preclude them from experiencing a Colby education, it says.

College officials said the expanded program positions Colby as one of the only liberal arts schools in the country that guarantees a substantial cap on tuition, room and board. It also will make a Colby education more affordable than that of many other public, in-state institutions, for families of middle income, the the college said.

As part of the program, families who earn up to $200,000, $150,000 and $100,000 with typical assets can expect to provide an annual contribution of no more than $20,000, $15,000 and $10,000, respectively, for tuition, room and board, according to the college. Colby will continue its zero contribution policy for students whose parents or guardians earn a total of $75,000 or less, with typical assets.

“While the Fair Shot Fund has been a real game-changer for many students since it launched in 2018, we’ve realized that there are still many families on the higher and lower ends of the middle-income spectrum who’ve fallen between the cracks and are left behind in terms of having access to the type of education that Colby provides,” Colby President David A. Greene said in the statement. “This amazing gift will help change that, and we are truly grateful to the alumnus who continues to step forward to help the College open its doors wide for students from all backgrounds and further enhance the socioeconomic diversity of our campus.”


The New York Times reported Friday that few students actually pay the full price colleges advertise as their cost to enroll, as the schools give financial aid to students based on family income, and “merit aid” to wealthier families that may be financially able to pay the full cost “but may balk at doing so.”

The federal government mandates colleges publish the full cost of enrollment but those “sticker prices” are a poor indicator of what students will actually pay, according to a Bookings Institution report issued Friday as noted in the Times article.

Meanwhile, at  Colby,  financial aid work has focused on simplifying what has become an overly complex process with language that often causes unnecessary confusion for families and dissuades students from applying, according to officials.

Matt Proto, Colby’s vice president and chief institutional advancement officer, said it is the college’s view that students and their families should not think Colby is out of their reach financially, nor should they be discouraged by the complex process of applying for financial aid. The Fair Shot Fund is especially unique because it doesn’t just cap tuition; it also includes room and board, Proto said.

“It is part of a menu of financial initiatives that continues to show how talented students from families at all income levels will apply and enroll if we can communicate to them about these important policies in a straightforward and simple way,” he said.

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