Elon University will increase tuition 5.14% for the 2023-24 academic year, announced by Elon University President Connie Book on Feb. 10. 

Benjamin Muse | Elon News Network

Nadine Jose, Student Body President

Elon University Student Government Association President and senior Nadine Jose said there’s a lot of wealth disparity at Elon and decisions like these mean something different for everyone.

“For some people, it's not a big deal, they don't even know how much it is, and for some people, they might not be able to go to college next year,” Jose said. “However you're feeling — any sort of way — that's completely a valid way of feeling and that is going to be a little stressful, but hopefully, we could work it out.” 

Sophomore Ryan Sease said he knows the money goes toward initiatives like scholarships and programs, but as a history major, he doesn’t see a lot of those improvements in his Elon experience. With two years left of college, he said he’s concerned about the price point given how much tuition increased last year.

“Is this going to be a continuing trend to go up above like 2 or 3% every year? Because that's going to price people out of the university,” Sease said.

Jose advises students who are concerned to work with faculty and staff to see if there are any open scholarships or opportunities to decrease a potential burden for existing students that could be added on to their existing degree or aid. 

Jose said that SGA cannot directly provide students with financial aid and, if it were up to her, tuition for all Elon students would be free. She said she was lucky in her Elon application process and received a lot of aid. It was her cheapest option, but knows that isn’t the reality for many students. 

“I know for some students, if they didn't get to have the scholarships they applied for, they wouldn't have gotten here, or they wouldn't have gone to college at all,” Jose said. “So tuition prices are obviously very important to a lot of people, it's the main reason they go to a particular school. When it goes up, it is very much understandable and an incredibly daunting and stressful thing to happen to them. But I would say for prospective students, it's just our job as university to promote existing scholarships and things like Odyssey or Fellows and really make sure that they're known and so more students can go to Elon.”

Sophomore Enrique Rocha is an Odyssey scholar and said he’s confused about the increase.

“I have a privilege to have a scholarship on campus, but I still pay tuition so to hear that it went up again … I mean, I just have to put in more work, I have to make more money to pay my tuition,” Rocha said. “Hopefully it goes down, but I don't see it coming up.”

Junior Shriya Baru said she thinks the increase is fair considering the new improvements to campus. 

“We've seen a lot of development over the campus this year. They've introduced the new Innovation Quad, they're trying to attract a lot more students and Elon is a nonprofit, private school,” Baru said.

Jose said the tuition increase covers new faculty and staff hires, as well as bolsters programs like the Innovation Quad and financial aid. Jose said the tuition increase looks different for an upperclassmen versus a freshman that may be required to have some of those additional costs like a meal plan. 

“It’s really just understanding what the money is going to, like food inflation happens and it's unfair to treat our local partners and not pay them what they're worth,” Jose said. 

Jose said some of those expenses come at the cost of students, but she expects tuition to be on SGA’s meeting agenda in the coming weeks. She encourages students to attend SGA business meetings because it’s an opportunity for them to learn more and potentially advocate for themselves and for transparency. 

“I think money is hard,” Jose said. “It's really hard to run an institution like this, and I am definitely not the number one person in the world who understands all the intricacies of endowments and the role of the vice president of finance. But I think we're all in this together. I think just giving each other grace and understanding when talking about financial things like this is really important and we should try not to minimize each other's struggles.”


Abigail Hobbs and Lila Robotti contributed to the reporting of this story.