January 13, 2012 by Stan Wright
College blog Campus Grotto released an article Dec. 6 that named Drexel University the most expensive college in the country by net price for the 2011-2012 school year.
The article, titled “A Look at Expensive Schools and their Net Price,” aimed to make a distinction between a university’s “sticker price” and the amount that students actually pay. The net price of the 100 most expensive schools was calculated by deducting the average grant offered by each institution from the total cost. Drexel’s net price, according to the website, is $40,491, with an average grant of $14,844.Rounding out the top three in the list were American University in the No. 2 spot, with a net price of just over $36,000, and Bard College, which had an almost identical net price.
Answering on behalf of University President John A. Fry, a Drexel spokeswoman cited inaccuracies in this article.
“The tuition figures used by Campus Grotto are for four-year students only,” she said. “However, most of Drexel’s freshmen are five-year students, who have a much lower set of costs.”
Students in the five-year program are billed $47,935, as she pointed out, and the average weighted cost across four and five-year students is $50,816.
“When this difference is taken into account, the net cost drops by $4,519, placing Drexel significantly lower on the list,” the spokeswoman said.
“In addition, calculating the ‘average University discount’ for students rather than the ‘average need-based grant’ would lead to much more accurate calculations of an average net price.”
She noted that Drexel’s net price is lower than many peer institutions when each institution’s average discount is taken into account.
“Net-price calculations also don’t take into account student earnings from Drexel’s co-op program, through which students typically earn $10,000 to $15,000 over a six-month period.”
A day before the contested Campus Grotto article was released, The Philadelphia Inquirer came out with an article naming late Drexel President Constantine Papadakis the highest-paid chief executive of a private college ever. According to the piece, which cited a salary survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Drexel paid $4.9 million for life insurance, salary and other benefits.
According to Niki Gianakaris, Drexel’s director of media relations, $4.2 million of this total went to life insurance and deferred compensation paid to Papadakis’ family.
Nonetheless, Drexel continues to make headlines for its expenditures, and the latest information released around the Drexel University Strategic Plan suggests projects with hefty price tags in the near future.
While not every student will agree with him, sophomore health service administration major Jordan Morton says he sees going to Drexel as an investment.
“While the price tag that comes along with Drexel often seems way too high, I personally feel that education is the one thing that cost shouldn’t deter you from,” he said. “Since I’m putting a quarter of a million dollars into my education, I’m hoping my future return is worth the initial investment.”
He continued, “Sure, I could have gone to lots of other good schools for half the cost of Drexel, but they wouldn’t have given me the opportunities that Drexel has. It has a ton to offer, and our reputation is growing every day.”
Beyond its co-op program and financial aid opportunities, Drexel also offers the Yellow Ribbon Program for Post 9/11 Veterans and their dependents, which allows those individuals to have their tuition paid in part by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.