April 10, 2009

Tuition rises 4.5 percent

[img id="77571" align="alignleft"] College tuition will increase 4.5 percent next year, from $36,891 to $38,550, the University announced Thursday.

While the hike is slightly smaller than those from previous years, it represents a significant real increase in tuition from last year, due to minimal inflation.

Larger nominal increases in the past were mitigated by inflation rates, putting the inflation-adjusted, or real, increases at about 2 percent a year since 2002.

The cost of housing and campus dining will not increase, meaning that a student living in the dorm will pay 3.5 percent more than last year for his education. The estimated total cost of a University of Chicago education is $51,078, up from $49,329.

The Harris School also made its new tuition and total cost numbers available to the Maroon. It increased its tuition 3 percent and upped the estimated total cost 5.4 percent.

The University’s announcement comes against the backdrop of a recent round of cuts necessitated by the poor performance of the economy. The University cut its budget by $143 million and increased its reliance on its endowment, even as the size of the endowment and revenue from the Medical Center, the University’s largest revenue source, fell.

According to Michael Behnke, vice president and dean of College enrollment and financial aid, the financial aid budget has been increased by $2 million to $69 million to reflect the anticipated rise in need caused by the recession, a 3-percent increase from last year. He did not say whether this number accounted for the added need from the tuition increase.

The average student received a gift of $33,573 last year.

Barring any other increases in spending, these figures indicate that the University stands to make $4.5 million from the tuition increases.

Administration officials declined to comment, although the University has repeatedly stated its commitment to meeting demonstrated financial aid.

The University called the rise in tuition and total costs “the smallest in more than a decade” in the press release in which they were announced. Last year, the University raised the prices of both attendance and tuition by 4.7 percent and by more than 5 percent the year before.

However, when compared with the rate of inflation, real costs are higher than they have been in at least four years.

With the Consumer Price Index, an indicator of inflation, at almost zero from February 2008 to February 2009 and with a similar prognosis for the next year, University of Chicago students are facing the highest real cost increase in at least four years.

The increase in total cost of a University of Chicago education is the same as Harvard and Stanford and slightly more than Yale, whose cost increased just 2.9 percent.

However, the 4.5-percent increase is more than that of Northwestern, Stanford, or any Ivy League except Dartmouth, which announced a tuition increase of 4.8 percent.

Besides the College and the Harris School, none of the University’s other divisions have announced new tuition rates or provided them to the Maroon.

­—additional reporting by Michael Lipkin