Tuition to increase 4.2 percent next academic year

Next year’s undergraduate tuition will cost $40,188, up from $38,550 this year. The total cost of education will rise by just over $2,000, to $53,244, with $13,056 devoted to room and board, and other fees.

By Asher Klein

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The cost of an undergraduate education will increase by 4.2 percent for the 2010-11 school year, the University announced Monday, the smallest increase in more than a decade, yet one that keeps the University among the most expensive schools in the country. Financial aid is expected to increase 4.5 percent.

Both tuition and fees for room and board will increase by 4.2 percent. Next year’s undergraduate tuition will cost $40,188, up from $38,550 this year. The total cost of education will rise by just over $2,000, to $53,244, with $13,056 devoted to room and board, and other fees.

When adjusted for inflation, the real increase in tuition for 2010-11 is about 2 percent. In a March press release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced a 2.1 percent increase in the consumer price index (CPI) from February 2009 to February 2010. The CPI is an indicator of inflation that calculates the real increase in prices over periods of time, although University spokesperson Steve Kloehn suggested CPI does not apply to the formula the University uses to determine costs.

“Tuition, room, board, and fees are pieces of a complex financial picture that includes many different forms of revenue and many different costs, few of which are captured well by the consumer price index,” Kloehn said.

Last year, officials called the slightly greater cost increase for 2009-10 “the lowest in more than a decade,” although with inflation then at zero, the real increase was steeper than in years past. A cost increase of just under 5 percent has been standard for the last 10 years.

About 60 percent of students receive financial aid, according to the announcement, and University officials stressed that aid will alleviate the financial burden for students and families.

“The University remains committed to helping students and families afford a Chicago education,” said Jim Nondorf, vice president and dean of college admissions and financial aid, in the announcement. “We are home to the nation’s most intellectually creative students. The University is expanding its student aid programs so that those exceptional scholars can continue to come here, regardless of financial resources.”

Just under half of undergraduates receive need-based financial aid, which the announcement said would average at $35,000 per aid-receiving student. The University gave $76 million in financial aid this year, according to Alicia Reyes, the director of college aid who was quoted in the announcement.

University spokesperson Sara Olkon said in an e-mail that while tuition continues to rise, so does financial aid. “The University’s spending on financial aid has risen steadily in recent years, driven by factors such as the impact of the financial crisis on families’ resources and generous donations including the anonymous gift that started the Odyssey Scholarships program,” Olkon said.

Olkon added that increase in financial aid funding relative to tuition costs is due to a bigger student body and an expected increase in Odyssey Scholarship recipients, whose families must make less than $75,000 per year to qualify. Reyes said in the announcement that $4.8 million was spent this year on the student loan-reducing Odyssey Scholarships.

While this year’s nominal increase in tuition is the smallest in recent memory, it is larger than those of its peer institutions’. A Stanford announcement pegged their nominal increase in cost at 3.5 percent and The Yale Daily News reported that Harvard’s was 3.8 percent, although Yale’s costs increased significantly, by 4.8 percent, this year. The total cost of all three schools will be less than the University of Chicago’s, with Stanford’s the highest at $50,576.

The formula the University employs to determine education costs is complex and still feeling the effects of the recession, Kloehn said.

“We continue to face external economic pressures that affect sources of income such as the endowment payout and philanthropic giving. The University of Chicago has worked diligently to cut costs where possible, while continuing to fund key priorities such as student aid, the demand for which is rising at a much faster rate than inflation.”

Commonly considered one of the most expensive schools in the country, NYU’s total costs will be slightly more than the U of C’s, at $53,603 for the upcoming year. That figure is based on a tuition increase of 3.1 percent this year, as reported by the NYU News, and using last year’s costs from the NYU’s admissions page.

Costs for undergraduates at George Washington University will be $57,182 next year, according to the GW Hatchet, George Washington’s student newspaper.