On March 22, 2023, a campus-wide email announced tuition and student charge increases for the 2023-24 academic year. The changes reflected an increase of $4,022, or 4.9%, from the 2022-23 academic year, for a total tuition of $81,376. In the previous year, from 2021-2022, tuition and fees increased by 5.4%. According to Swarthmore Vice President for Finance and Administration Rob Goldberg, the changes came after considering inflation and increased costs to the college. Textbook Affordability Program (TAP) funds, Dining Dollars, and Swat Points will be increased as a part of the tuition and student charge increases. The Finance and Investment Office claims that tuition and fee increases are needed as the college confronts inflation and rising costs.
“We’re trying to accommodate cost growth so that students see [the impact] on a daily basis,” Goldberg said. As food and material prices go up, the TAP and dining dollar increases are designed to compensate for that and maintain buying power.
In addition to the tuition changes, unlimited Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) ride passes — used for buses and the regional rails — will be given to students at the start of each semester for free-of-charge transportation. In the past, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and other departments provided students with day passes when requested for events and opportunities “congruent with the Lang Center’s mission.” By giving all students free transportation, Goldberg hopes the program will increase accessibility.
Goldberg also noted that student contributions and financial aid calculations would not be impacted by tuition increases. Kaw Moo ’26, who said they receive 100% financial aid from the college, expressed ambivalence about the increase.
“I feel like I’m not in a position to say much because I don’t have to make up the difference,” Moo said. “But for [other] students, it is a bit unfair because there is already a big price tag on tuition, but they are continually adding a five percent increase.”
Many peer institutions are currently in the same price range as Swarthmore. Although the college does not set prices with other schools, they examine published information and are within “fractions of a percent of each other at this point,” according to Goldberg. For comparison, Williams College’s tuition and fees for the 2023-24 academic year are $81,160 (a 5% increase from the previous year) and Amherst College’s total cost of enrollment is $84,210 (a 4.7% increase).
Maximo Ellis ’25 said that he sees the tuition hike as an effect of college costs rising in real dollars, adjusted for inflation. Because of the college’s $2.7 billion endowment — as of June 2022 — alongside alumni donations, Ellis sees the increases as excessive. He also said the increases are impacting his calculations for graduate school costs.
“There are a lot of things that the donors help out with, which is great for Swat, but then why does Swat continue to price hike and price hike when they have all this extra money floating around?” Ellis questioned.
The college maintains a consistent spending rate, such that a certain percentage — between 3.5% and 5% — of the endowment can be used for operating costs. According to the Operating Budget for 2022-23, the spending rate is 4.33%.