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Tuition Reset

Willamette University will reset its standard undergraduate tuition price for the 2021-2022 academic year, introducing a new way to think about affordability.

Rather than continuing to increase our prices each year — and then ratcheting up discounts through aid awards to offset the higher prices for families — we are making the conscious choice to be more transparent about what college really costs. Our standard tuition rate for students in the College of Arts and Sciences will be lowered about 20%, which more accurately represents what undergraduate students actually pay after scholarships and financial aid are applied. (Willamette will continue to offer robust merit scholarships and need-based aid to further reduce its new tuition rate.) This landmark choice positions Willamette as a leader among its peers of highly selective liberal arts institutions, and puts the focus on expanding access to its extraordinary education. While we’ve tried to anticipate — and answer — questions students may have, each situation is unique. We encourage current students to contact the Office of Financial Aid with questions about their specific situation. Prospective students should contact the Office of Admissions with their questions. Read our press release for more information.

Whether students draw on our deep roots in the liberal arts, law, and business, pursue new degrees from WU in public health and sustainability, or explore academic pathways via the Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Claremont School of Theology, they’ll benefit from Willamette’s institutional strength.


  • Why is Willamette University choosing to do a tuition reset?

    Many students and families don’t realize that colleges set high tuition prices that are then deeply discounted during the financial aid process. This outdated high price/high discount model can be confusing and prevents many college-bound students from considering all of their options. It also contributes to a perception of exclusivity, which is contrary to Willamette’s core values.

    Willamette’s tuition reset is a big step, and one that aligns perfectly with its history of making college more accessible for all students. Willamette is the region’s leader among highly selective schools when it comes to supporting a diverse student body. As compared to our peers, we admit and enroll a greater number of students who are eligible for Pell Grants, are the first in their families to attend college, or identify as students of color. Notably, WU was one of the first top-100 schools in the country to offer test-optional admissions with no application fee, two practices that many other elite schools still haven’t adopted. We’re proud to lead a new conversation about transparent tuition pricing among our peer institutions, and encourage other private colleges in the Pacific Northwest — and across the country — to consider implementing a straightforward approach to tuition rates.

  • Is Willamette cutting back programs?

    On the contrary. The tuition reset is a meaningful effort to be more transparent about the cost of tuition, and is not related to the range or quality of Willamette’s academic programs. In fact, students will benefit from the same high quality programs we currently offer, along with new majors in public health and data science, a new business minor, and new degree pathways through Pacific Northwest College of Art and Claremont College of Theology. Willamette remains fully committed to its core mission of providing a rigorous education, preparing its graduates to transform knowledge into action. As an institution, we are living this motto by example with this significant action towards greater transparency in academics — and in the choices we make as an institution. The Willamette degree continues to represent the highest quality educational experience for our students.

  • Will the cost of tuition change for full-time undergraduate students?

    The bottom line is that the net tuition costs next year will be about the same as what students pay this year. (Net tuition is what students are charged for Willamette’s tuition, after Willamette scholarships and grants are applied to the bill.) When students review their bills for the 2021-2022 academic year, they will see that the combined total amount of institutional scholarship and financial aid will be lower — but Willamette will charge a proportionately lower amount for standard tuition. So while some of the figures on our bill will change, the net tuition cost will be about the same as it is now.

  • What will change about financial aid?

    Students will follow the same financial aid process as they have in the past. All current and prospective undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences who want to be considered for federal, state, or institutional grants must complete and submit the FAFSA by our posted deadlines. We will provide an aid decision based on determined financial need as compared to the new lower tuition rate and other billed costs. This means that returning students may receive less aid than in previous years because our tuition rates are lower — but the bottom-line cost for returning students will remain about the same as it is this year. No returning student will be charged more for tuition next year than Willamette charged them this year.

  • What will change about the cost of room and board at Willamette?

    The tuition reset has no effect at all on the cost of room and board at Willamette.

  • Does the tuition reset have any effect on competitive, merit-based scholarships?

    Willamette will continue to award merit scholarships and need-based grants. Scholarships and grants awarded by Willamette may be reduced proportionately to the lower tuition rate. The tuition reset has no effect on guidelines for aid awarded by outside scholarship organizations, or by the state and federal governments.

  • Will there be any changes to Federal Work Study (FWS) or University jobs as components of a financial aid decision?

    No, the tuition reset will not change how potential earnings from part-time jobs are included as part of a financial aid decision.

  • Will tuition costs rise in future years?

    While Willamette expects to increase tuition in future years in order to account for annual upticks in salaries, benefits, and other expenses associated with the cost of keeping a university running smoothly, the net effect is that any increases will be based on a significantly lower tuition price as the result of this tuition reset. This will result in students paying a lower cost of attendance overall during their four years at Willamette.

  • Does this reset also apply to graduate students and/or students completing a dual degree program? What about students who begin their enrollment in January 2021?

    The tuition reset applies to all undergraduate students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences; tuition for graduate programs is not affected by the reset. Students who are entering the first year of a dual degree program will continue to be charged the tuition price of their graduate program. The reset takes effect starting in the Fall 2021 semester.

  • Who should I contact if I have questions?

    We want all current and prospective students to know what to expect about the charges they see on their bill, the amount of financial aid they receive, and their final costs. Our financial aid and admissions staff are ready to help.

    Current students will receive a printed letter, mailed to their homes, containing personalized information about what their net tuition will be next year as compared to this year. Willamette students or families who have specific questions about what the tuition reset will mean for them should contact the Office of Financial Aid.

    Prospective students should contact the Office of Admission with their questions about the tuition reset.

Willamette University

Office of Financial Aid

1st Floor Waller Hall
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6273 voice
877-744-3736 toll free