Middlebury’s policy is to limit increases in the comprehensive fee to no more than 1 percentage point above the CPI.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Middlebury College has set its comprehensive fee for the 2010-2011 academic year at $52,120, a 3.4 increase from last year’s figure of $50,400. Middlebury’s comprehensive fee includes tuition, room and board. Adding in a mandatory student activities fee, unchanged this year at $380, brings the total to $52,500, versus $50,780 for the current year. Those numbers do not include books, personal expenses or travel to and from the College.

This winter, Middlebury adopted a policy that limits increases in the comprehensive fee to no more than 1 percentage point above the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index, as determined at the end of the previous calendar year. President Ronald D. Liebowitz, citing the need to control the cost of a liberal arts education, told the campus community about the “CPI + 1” initiative in an address on February 12, and the strategy was endorsed by the board of trustees a week later.  The CPI rose 2.7 percent in 2009, according to government figures, which meant Middlebury’s fee increase would be no more than 3.7 percent.

“Last year … our comprehensive fee increase was 3.2 percent,” the president said in his February speech, “the lowest increase for Middlebury in 37 years. Yet it was still more than 3 percentage points, or 300 basis points, above the CPI. The prolonged greater-than-CPI increases in our comprehensive fee have ramifications for the College both internally and externally. We need to recognize that the demand for a four-year liberal arts degree, while still great, is not inelastic: There will be a price point at which even the most affluent of families will question their investment; the sooner we are able to reduce our fee increases the better.”

The “CPI + 1” initiative is part of a broader strategy undertaken by the College to deal with the effects of the global economic downturn and to prepare for the future. Read more here: