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Lawrence University focusing on controlling student costs, increasing financial aid

Affordability has become today’s biggest buzzword in conversations about college.

Lawrence University is addressing those concerns with its smallest rate increase in 20 years for the 2015-16 academic year. Lawrence set its comprehensive fee for the upcoming school year at $52,950, an increase of 2.89 percent over the current year. The increase is the smallest since a 2.84 percent change in 1996.

The comprehensive fee covers, not only tuition, but room, board, student activity and sustainability fees.

The modest increase is made possible by efforts on part of the administration to decrease Lawrence’s operating expenses by 7 percent — $3.75 million —over the next three years while preserving the quality of its education.

“I realize the financial burden that many of our students and families face, and I take seriously any increase to the comprehensive fee,” said President Mark Burstein, who has made affordability a cornerstone of his presidency since assuming the office in July 2013.

“The cost of providing a rigorous and challenging academic experience, with a student-to-faculty ratio (9:1) that is among the lowest in the country, is indeed great. As we continue to improve this institution and its offerings to students, it is imperative that we work to find ways to moderate the increasing cost of the transformative education we provide.”

Lawrence launched a campaign last September focused on raising student scholarship funds following a $25 million gift, the largest in school history. Alumni and friends of the college since have contributed more than $18 million to match the gift, generating funds that will be used solely to create endowed scholarships that help meet students’ demonstrated financial need.

“Efforts to raise funds for scholarships and to decrease operating costs are essential to the continued health of Lawrence and to the affordability of the education we offer for future Lawrentians and their families,” said Burstein.