Financial aid, tuition, athletics, and fall planning update
Dear Skidmore Parents and Families,
I hope this finds you in good health and doing well during this challenging time in our country and the world. I know that steady communication and information-sharing is vital to our efforts, and so I write today to update you on several key elements in our 2020-21 planning.
Certainly the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant financial pressures throughout the world, and we know many are feeling these pressures. Skidmore College remains committed to ensuring all students have access to a Skidmore education, and in fact we have increased Skidmore’s financial aid spending by 10% from the past year.
Skidmore’s financial aid budget has quadrupled since 2003 to $60 million for the 2020-21 academic year. Virtually all of Skidmore’s financial aid is awarded based on demonstrated financial need, and the College commits to meeting the full need of every admitted student.
This year’s increase in financial aid is part of Skidmore’s upward trend over the last two decades. The average 2020-21 first-year aid package is $48,000, ranging from $2,000 to $65,000; 51% of students are receiving need-based grants and 55% are receiving some form of financial aid. We are proud to note that the average post-college student debt at Skidmore is below the national average.
The financial aid increase is part of Skidmore’s overall 2020-21 operating budget, which also includes the same 3.5% comprehensive fee increase (including tuition) that the College has instituted in recent years. This increase is very similar to what we see at many other colleges and universities.
To prepare the campus for the safest and most fulfilling educational experience possible this fall, the College is taking on additional, one-time operating costs that add up to millions of dollars. Importantly, none of these costs will be passed on to students and their families. More information regarding these measures and Skidmore’s financial commitment is available in the full version of this message on Skidmore’s website.
Fall athletics update
This afternoon, I announced to our student-athletes that the Liberty League has decided to cancel all league competition for the fall, due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. I cannot express how disappointing this news is. We had continued to plan for at least some version of an athletic season this fall, and until the last few days we continued to hope this would be possible, even under the most scrupulous health precautions. But the challenges were too much to overcome for the fall. However, our teams can continue to meet, practice and train together, and we hope this will at least offer some version of the student-athlete experience that is such an important component of the college experience.
As we continue to plan to bring most of our students to campus this fall, we recognize that this unprecedented and evolving situation will continue to present unexpected challenges, so we are prepared to respond as needed, and our primary focus will always be the health and safety of our students and our entire Skidmore community.
Last week, we shared with all Skidmore students and their families the details of our plan to provide quarantine housing and support to all students who are traveling to the College from any location that requires quarantine, including states on New York’s Travel Advisory List. Quarantine housing in a Saratoga Springs hotel will be offered beginning on Aug. 7, and students who require quarantine are encouraged to arrive no later than Aug. 9 to complete the 14-day isolation period and be tested for COVID-19 in time to begin in-person classes on Aug. 24. Students and families seeking answers to frequently asked questions about quarantine and move-in are invited to consult a list on Skidmore’s Fall Planning website.
To help Skidmore appropriately plan for quarantine services, we need to know if students are intending to travel to campus from any location that requires quarantine, and whether they will need Skidmore’s quarantine housing option. All students are asked to respond to this survey no later than today, July 22. (Skidmore log-in required.)
Fall semester instruction
As I noted when we announced the plan for the fall semester, we asked our faculty to determine their preferred mode of instruction this fall, based on their own health situation as well as their sense of the best pedagogies and technologies for teaching their courses. The faculty have dedicated many hours this summer to a wide range of workshops and trainings to enable the most robust and effective teaching and learning experiences possible for the fall. At this point, we know that 60% of the fall courses will be taught in-person or a mix of in-person and online, with 40% taught exclusively in an online mode.
Most students will have at least one course that will be taught online, and students who are not able to come to campus will have a broad array of online courses to choose from. These plans are comparable to what many of our peer schools will be offering and are consistent with our guiding principles of safeguarding the health and safety of our community and offering the richest educational experience we possibly can. I will say again how much I appreciate the extensive work by our faculty to develop each of their classes in a way that maintains the high quality of instruction and faculty-student interactions at the core of the unique Skidmore education.
I will continue to send out updates and information when we have something new to share. Our efforts to bring most of our students back to campus in a few weeks is truly a collaborative partnership with all of you, and I am grateful for your patience, understanding and support.
Marc C. Conner