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In the nineteenth century tuition at Centre College increased from $40 per year in 1822 to $50 per year in 1900, or an increase of 25%. In the twentieth century tuition exploded by a factor of 284 from $50 per year in 1910 to $14,200 by 1998. The twenty-first century saw Centre institute a comprehensive fee, including tuition plus room and board. This cost was $33,000 in 2006 and rose by 137% to $45,100 for the 2013-14 academic year.

Nineteenth Century

In 1822 Centreís Board of Trustees set tuition at $40 per year for instruction in the languages and $50 per year in the sciences. It further stipulated that the fees should be paid quarterly in advance, and that if the fees of any student were in arrears for three months or more, the student would be suspended by the faculty. A student tuition payment account from 1822 or 1823 shows that few students actually paid the $10 quarterly in advance, with some paying as little as one dollar. It also shows that students were assessed a fee of one dollar for wood.

By 1850 tuition had decreased to $30 per annum, with a fee of one dollar for fuel. In 1875 tuition was to $50 per annum, with a contingent fee of $5 for janitorís hire, fuel in College rooms, etc. Tuition remained at the same level in 1890 and 1900, but by the later date the contingent fee had risen to $16.

In 1822 the Trustees also included the following: "If any youth of good morals and promising talents be desirous of admission to the College, and shall be unable to pay the tuition fees, the Faculty by the advice of seven members of the Board may give him instruction gratis, provided that the number of students so admitted shall never exceed six without consent of the Board." In the early 1830s students preparing for the ministry could work at the Education Farm in exchange for tuition. The 1850 catalog states that a young man wishing to pursue studies for the ministry, after furnishing testimonials as to his character, could study at a much reduced tuition, or even have the fee waived. The 1875 catalog extends this by giving the sons of ministers of any denomination free tuition, plus free tuition to all men of "limited means and good character." However, there is the statement that "The question of future compensation will be optional with each one." This provision continued throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century. In the late 1890s the college offered each general State officer and every member of the State legislature the right to appoint a young man of limited means who would receive free tuition, provided they were unable to pay the tuition fee.

From the collegeís earliest history, tuition fees never fully covered the cost of operating the school. For example, the operating costs for the 1855-56 year were $9,262.58, but tuition only provided $2,923.75. Part of the problem was that the college was educating for free a significant percent of the student body. Scholarships and perpetual scholarships allowed subscribers to send sons and heirs to Centre for free. The 1854-56 financial report notes that there were a total of 220 students attending Centre, 173 in the college and 47 in the preparatory school, but there were 60 of those students on scholarship, meaning they paid no tuition. Given that tuition was $30 per year, if all the students enrolled had paid the full fee, the total would amount to $6,600. However, tuition money actually received was only $2,480, leaving a gap of $4,120. The amount of money received didnít even pay the salaries of the faculty, which was $6,255.

Twentieth Century

In the twentieth century the tuition rate increased by a factor of 284, with an increase during of 1980s of 236%


Twenty-First Century

In the twenty-first century Centre began using a comprehensive fee that included both tuition and room and board.