Hillsdale College’s price tag jumped to an all-time high this fall, with costs increasing more than they have in the last eight years.

The total cost including fees, room and board for the 2017 – 2018 aca­demic year increased by 4.56 percent to $37,352.

While Hillsdale’s costs remain lower than the average private four-year insti­tution, they are increasing at a faster pace. Since 2012, Hillsdale’s costs have increased by 16.7 percent. According to the College Board, the average private four-year insti­tution has increased only 9.5 percent over the same period.

“Hillsdale tuition is $25,540 — low com­pared to similar insti­tu­tions,” Chief Admin­is­trative Officer Rich Péwé said in an email. “This means even a 2.5 percent increase at another similar insti­tution, with much higher tuition, is much more money.”

A portion of that comes from a 41 percent increase in student fees, which rose from $852 to $1,202. Patrick Flannery, trea­surer and vice pres­ident of finance, said the increase in student fees was due to a new main­te­nance fee to cover the costs of Whitley Residence’s ren­o­va­tions and new flooring in the Suites.

Flannery said the fee helps with main­te­nance of the college’s facil­ities. It also appears as a sep­arate line item on stu­dents’ online bill statement.

“One of the good things is that it makes things trans­parent,” Flannery said. “It lets student know how much of their money goes towards these types of things.”

Flannery added that the new fee was not being used toward con­struction of Christ Chapel.

According to the college’s website, student fees go toward Student Fed­er­ation dues, ath­letic events admission, health service, a student ID, and grad­u­ation cap and gown.

The increase in cost will also affect stu­dents receiving merit-based schol­ar­ships. Financial Aid Director Richard Moeggenberg said the college decided two years ago to no longer award gifts cov­ering a per­centage of tuition. Insead, the college is granting awards for fixed dollar amounts.

“There’s a finite amount of schol­ar­ships,” he said. “To keep that in control, we made the decision to not tie merit awards to a per­centage. If a student has a $15,000 merit award, when tuition goes up by 3.5 percent, essen­tially the value of their schol­arship goes down.”

While returning stu­dents may face aid packages with lesser value, Moeggenberg said incoming freshmen are receiving more merit awards than ever before.

“We’re receiving stu­dents with strong aca­demic back­grounds, and we’re awarding more and more merit monies,” he said. “The average financial package for this year’s freshmen and last year’s freshmen exceeded what we had given in the past.”

According to Péwé, the college bud­geted to increase financial aid funds for five years at an annual rate of 9 percent.

Still, for stu­dents such as sophomore James Millius, the fixed system increases the financial burden of attending the college.

“Many others and I rely on financial aid to go here,” he said. “When costs go up without an increase in financial aid, it affects a lot of us.”

Péwé added that when the school raises its price, it creates addi­tional chal­lenges for the college, as well.

“Every tuition increase is actually a burden, not just revenue, because we have to supply pro­por­tion­ately more financial aid to meet the addi­tional costs — a financial blessing and a curse,” he said.