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With the announcement of a new financial aid fund that caps middle-income families’ parent/guardian contribution—added to an existing program that eliminates the parent contribution for families earning $60,000 or less (with assets typical of that income range)—Colby College has become one of the most affordable colleges in the country for approximately 85 percent of American families.

Colby recently announced that beginning with the Class of 2023, families with total household income of $150,000 (and assets typical of that income range) can expect a parent/guardian contribution of no more than $15,000 annually, making Colby the first liberal arts college in the country to launch such a program. The expected contribution is proportionally smaller for parents with lower incomes, and for those below $60,000—roughly the U.S. median household income—Colby expects no parent/guardian contribution. Colby’s published comprehensive fee is $69,400.

The average published tuition, fees, and room and board costs for a public, four-year, in-state institution are $21,370. This initiative makes it possible for students to attend Colby for less than public colleges and universities.

“The affordability of higher education is a concern not only for families but for institutions like ours as well,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “Too many families are forced to compromise on their children’s college education because the best option for them isn’t affordable. Our financial aid programs will now ensure that this need not be the case at Colby.”

The rising rate of student debt is increasingly problematic for colleges and families. In November U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called the $1.5-trillion federal student loan balance “impossible to fathom.” In 2008 Colby replaced student loans with grants in financial aid packages.

Colby meets 100 percent of each admitted student’s demonstrated need. In recent years, more than 95 percent of families making $200,000 or less have qualified for some form of financial assistance. The average financial aid award is currently $51,000.