Marketing and Student Records clear up confusion around tuition reset

By Emyle Watkins, Art & Photography Director

While Canisius College’s Excellence Within Reach campaign aims to provide financial transparency to prospective students, it has been viewed with both excitement and skepticism by former and current Canisius students. 

“​I’m excited about it. I wrote a Facebook post about it reminding alumni that Canisius is on our resume for the rest of our lives. No one wants to apply to a job and put a school that is failing or closed on their resume when they’re demanding a high salary. I think Canisius offers a lot of great programs outside of the classroom,” Executive Director of Rise Collaborative, and Canisius ‘08 graduate Kevin Heffernan said in an email interview.

Excellence Within Reach which will reduce tuition per year from $34,966 [2017-2018] to $27,000 beginning next fall. In an approach to current students, Canisius College’s offices have been focused over the past few weeks in sending out estimated aid letters and answering questions and concerns about the new campaign. Both the office of Marketing and Communication, and the office of Student Records and Financial Aid have maintained that stance that the campaign is not only in the best interest of prospective students, but of current students.

“We believe that making Canisius more accessible to new populations of prospective students is a good thing – both for those students and for the college as a whole. It’s important to note that one option considered was to maintain tuition and aid for returning students at the current levels,” Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communication Matthew Z. Wojick, said in an email interview. “Canisius ultimately made the decision to include returning students as part of this initiative so everyone would benefit.  Everyone would have seen their tuition increased by at least 3% next year and everyone will benefit from not having that additional cost passed along to them. Ultimately, for current students, the value of their education remains the same, and in the end, they will pay less for it next year.”  

Assistant Vice President and Director, Kevin M. Smith, also confirmed that the tuition reset is in the interest of current students, as without the tuition reset students would have seen an increase in cost of attendance next year. On average, tuition rises 3% each year, and with the reset, students are “guaranteed to pay no more than they are paying now, and the majority will see a net tuition decrease compared to what they would have paid after a typical increase from this year’s higher rate of tuition,” according to the Excellence Within Reach webpage.

Several students have spoken to The Griffin staff about having their scholarships decreased (this year to next year, read as “total Canisius Scholarship & Grant” on the estimate letters) at various rates, that some considered alarming.

While a student may view the reduction in scholarship as disproportionate to the 23% decrease in tuition, their rate of discount was taken into account when calculating the tuition reset. Rate of discount is calculated based on Canisius College financial aid divided by tuition, according to Smith.

“Canisius is continuing to offer all forms of financial aid, including merit scholarships, need based grants, state grants, federal grants and loans to all who qualify.  With a lower published tuition, every student’s financial need is lower. Therefore, adjustments to the financial awards were made,” Smith added.

It is expected students’ cost of tuition could either remain the same, or be reduced up to $7,966, although larger amounts closer to $7,966 would be more likely in the approximately 6% of students receiving no Canisius-based financial aid. $7,966 is the end difference between tuition of the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years.

“Since tuition is being reset at $27,000, the 3% increase on this year’s tuition that would have occurred next fall will save students approximately $1,000. Plus, any future tuition increases beyond next year will be based on the lower tuition amount, allowing all students to save in future years as well. Excellence Within Reach benefits everyone, and the college as a whole will benefit from increased enrollment, which is the ultimate goal,” Wojick added.

While the Excellence Within Reach initiative letters sent to students and their families only provide an estimate on what a student may have paid without the reset, and what they are estimated to pay with the reset, students can expect their actual packages in May 2018. Smith added that he hopes these will be sent out sooner, depending student-to-student on the filing of their Free Application for Federal Student Aid [FASFA].

Excellence Within Reach also allows for the College to be more transparent in the cost of student housing. In the past, students living on campus have received a $2,000 grant for living on campus. Now, this grant will be removed and housing will decrease $2,000.

Students are also being encouraged to reach out to Student Records and Financial Aid with any questions regarding their tuition, and for a better understanding of their estimate letters.

“I’m happy we’re doing this,” Smith added in an in-person interview.

Wojick also added that the College wanted to put information about this initiative in current students’ hands first.

“It was agreed by everyone involved in planning this initiative that a top priority was to notify our current students before anyone else. Current students, along with faculty and staff, were the first to hear about this at the campus event on October 2, and were the first to be provided access to the campaign website that provides an overview of the college’s rationale for taking this important step,” Wojick said.

The concept for Excellence Within Reach was a joint effort and did not stem from one office or another.

“Once the Canisius Board of Trustees approved plans to move forward with the tuition reset, the Marketing & Communication team was brought in to create both the external marketing campaign and to help with plans to announce it to the Canisius community, including current students. That said, plans for both the tuition reset and subsequent campaign involved a collaboration between senior leadership, Enrollment Management, Student Records & Financial Services, Marketing & Communication and the Griff Center,” Wojick explained.

The concept of resetting to the tuition to 2008 was not a specific mission of the College, rather, according to Smith, research proved that adjusting tuition to $27,000 was the right move for the college. $27,000 happened to be the previous cost of tuition in 2008.

Eileen C. Herbert, Director of Public Relations, did not respond to an email request from The Griffin for a secondary interview with Hurley in regards to this story before it was originally published on Oct. 27.

Deanna Garwol, '21

Freshman student Deanna Garwol, ’21, holds her Excellence Within Reach letter in Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library.

While current students have had mixed reactions to the transparency and impact of the tuition reset, some students testify being content with any decrease in tuition.

“It’s insane knowing that it’s possible now, that it’s like, within reach now, it means everything,” Patrick Sullivan ‘20, said in a recent commercial for Excellence Within Reach.

Sullivan says that at the time of the interview, he was told the title “Excellence Within Reach,” and that he would save around $1,000. It was not disclosed to him anything further about how this would be done, and nothing was said regarding a tuition reset.

Regardless, Sullivan said his emotions were still pure upon hearing that news.

“For me, that’s less I have to work,” Sullivan said in an interview with The Griffin.

Janelle Harb, Nathan Ress, Amanda Weber and Felicia Smolen all contributed to the reporting of this story.

This article first appeared in The Griffin’s Oct. 27th print edition under the headline “Mislead? or Misread?” on page 4. This online version has since been edited for further clarity and digital integration.

Disclaimer: Emyle Watkins is an intern in Marketing focusing on Snapchat, Excellence Within Reach was not talked of or disclosed prior to the announcement date to her.


What is your reaction to Excellence Within Reach? We’d like to know.



  1. Reblogged this on Emyle Watkins and commented:
    Investigative/News story I wrote

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