Beacon Breakdown: How tuition value compares at Emerson’s three campuses

Emerson students at the Boston, Los Angeles, and Kasteel Well campuses all pay the same tuition and room and board rates despite differences in semester length and meal plans at each campus.

How do tuition values compare?

Students at Kasteel Well and ELA have shorter semesters, meaning the price per day for students to attend these campuses is higher than at the Boston campus. As a result of the shorter semester, students attend fewer classes for the same cost of tuition and pay the same price for room and board for different housing situations and meal plans.

Associate Director of Communications and Media Relations Rosemary Lavery said in an emailed statement to the Beacon that the school does not decouple dining costs from room and board costs and that the school charges the same rates across all three campuses to give students freedom to study at each without worrying about different room and board rates.

How did the Beacon calculate the differences in value?

One semester of tuition at all campuses for full-time undergraduate students costs $23,008, according to Emerson’s website. Room and board for a single room costs $9,095 per semester, a double room $8,845, and a triple about $8,595 at all campuses. Kasteel Well offers mostly triple rooms with 18 triples, nine singles, five doubles, and three quads split between two available buildings. The ELA website says their campus only offers doubles and singles.

Based on Emerson’s academic calendar, a semester at the Boston campus is the longest of the three locations with 109 days for spring 2019 and 110 including move-out day. A semester at ELA lasts 103 days, and the Kasteel Well program lasts exactly 90 days due to passport restrictions. Students attend the program on a passport alone and not on a student visa. Travelers with a U.S. passport can only stay for 90 days in a 180day period in the Schengen Area, which includes the Netherlands.

The cost per day varies for students staying in a single room at any of the three campuses. For a student on the main campus, the cost per day to attend Emerson and live in a single room is $295. On the ELA campus, the cost per day is $312, and at Kasteel Well the cost is $357 per day—approximately $60 more per day than what it costs for students living on campus in Boston.

Taking the $295 cost per day to attend the Boston campus and multiplying it by the 90-day Kasteel Well term, a semester at the castle for the value of going to the Boston campus would hypothetically cost $26,550 instead of the actual $32,100 cost—about $5,600 less. If the ELA cost per day was equivalent to Boston, it would cost $1,767 less to attend the program.

These calculations do not include the $35 orientation fees for both ELA and the castle, the $2,100 travel package to fly to the Netherlands and go on group excursions, or the $207 ELA program fee.

How do meal plan values compare?

At ELA and Kasteel Well, the meal plans included in room and board cost the same as the Boston default meal plan—the Semel Plan—yet the meal plans at ELA and Kasteel Well function differently than the 101 meals and 650 Board Bucks plan in Boston.

At ELA, students receive $1,800 in ELA Cash—similar to Board Bucks—preloaded onto their Emerson ID cards. Students can use ELA Cash at a number of eateries in the vicinity of the campus, including a local market and Rite Aid, as if it were ECCash.

ELA’s Associate Director of Student Life and Housing Turi Daoust said in a phone interview that there are about seven to eight eateries surrounding the Los Angeles campus that accept ELA Cash, along with two eateries in the ELA building.

“There are two leased restaurants on the first floor of the Emerson LA building, but they’re not dining halls—they’re not Emerson-owned, they’re independent operators,” Daoust said. “There’s no dining hall in the LA program.”

Kasteel Well does not use Board Bucks; instead, students are put on a meal plan that offers 14 meals a week—three meals a day Monday through Thursday, no meals on Friday or Saturday, and two meals on Sunday, according to Emerson’s website. Students do not need to tap or swipe into the dining hall to use their meal plan.

The Kasteel Well dining hall serves meals Monday through Thursday and three times a day in short blocks, and, on Sunday, the dining hall serves only brunch and dinner. Each meal time only offers one station of hot food, a salad bar, and a bread-and-cheese station. The Boston Dining Center is open for continuous service from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every week day with multiple stations for vegan, allergen free, and traditional food.

Kasteel Well Executive Director Dulcia Meijers said the dining hall would not be open throughout the day outside of mealtimes for the spring 2019 semester .

“[Last semester] we kept the dining hall open from early morning until 7 p.m. all day, but after 12:30 p.m. or 1-ish, nobody would be in the dining hall,” Meijers said in a phone interview. “So this term I said to the dining hall people, ‘Why don’t we just close the dining hall after breakfast and lunch at 1 p.m., and then we open again at 5?’”

Meijers said the Kasteel Well campus operates under the same costs as the Boston campus.

“We just stuck all these years to the policy of the home campus—the same for prices, in terms of the meal plan,” Meijers said. “We do everything in price and in policies in alignment with the home campus.”

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