Emerson College will not cover housing cost difference for Marlboro students


Jakob Menendez

The 73-year-old Marlboro College was sold to Democracy Builders. Jakob Menendez / Beacon Staff

By Jacob Seitz, Staff Writer

Emerson College will not cover the $5,555 difference in housing costs for Marlboro College students who live on the Boston campus next fall, according to officials from both colleges.

Marlboro Chief Advancement Officer Rennie Washburn wrote in an email to The Beacon that Marlboro is raising funds to help students, staff, and faculty affected by the merger, and that some of that money may be used to cover the housing difference.

According to the Marlboro College website, the cost of room and board at Marlboro College is $12,595, while the average cost of room and board at Emerson is $18,150. According to the student guide, Marlboro students will live on Emerson’s campus until the end of their junior year unless an exemption is made. 

Marlboro students must also fulfill the 128 credit hours needed to graduate at Emerson, as opposed to the 120 credit hours needed to graduate at Marlboro. This means that Marlboro students will have to take two more classes at Emerson than they would have at Marlboro.

Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Jim Hoppe and Director of Undergraduate Admission Michael Lynch both said, in separate emails, the coverage for the difference in housing costs will be coming from Marlboro.

“My understanding is that the efforts to help Marlboro students bridge any gaps regarding the cost of housing are being managed by members of the Marlboro community,” both emails read.

Marlboro Dean of Admissions Fumio Sugihara said in an interview that while talks of paying for the difference are in the works, nothing concrete has come about.

“The problem is that we have some ideas, but we don’t really have anything to report just yet,” Sugihara said. It’s something that our Board of Trustees is aware of [and] leadership here at Marlboro is aware of, and we’re giving it a lot of thought and trying to figure out what is it that we could do to assist our students.”

The Emerson Office of Undergraduate Admissions released a guide on Dec. 19 intended to answer questions Marlboro students may have about their transition to Emerson in the fall.

“Any cost difference in room and board rates between Marlboro and Emerson are not covered by Emerson,” the guide states.

Sugihara said that he has heard that roughly 75 current Marlboro students will transfer to Emerson. 

With a projected $50 million earnings from room and board fees next fiscal year and an operation and maintenance cost of $34 million for all of Emerson’s building, 75 students would bring the total housing difference cost to approximately $416,625 per year.

“We’ve been given a number 75, but I would prefer to actually have conclusive data rather than rely on that on that figure,” Sugihara said. “That is an absolute ballpark, and I’m not even going to say that’s the best guess.”

According to U.S. News and World Report, 54 percent of full-time undergraduate students at Emerson, with tuition and fees totaling $48,728, receive some sort of need-based financial aid, with an average need-based amount of $20,114. In contrast, 81 percent of full-time undergraduates at Marlboro receive some sort of need-based financial aid, with an average award of $33,953 per student. Marlboro’s tuition and fees, excluding room and board, total $27,485.

Students at Emerson receive an average of nearly $14,000 less in need-based financial aid than Marlboro students but are paying $20,000 more in tuition. 

According to The New York Times Upshot, the median family income of a student at Emerson is $147,900, and 64 percent of students come from families in the top 20 percent of earners in the U.S. 

According to College Simply, the average median household income of students at Marlboro is $70,203, less than half that of Emerson’s. Also, 38 percent of Marlboro students are considered low-income students.