Tuition continues to rise, topping $44k
The base price of a Washington University education has risen more than 50 percent in the last 10 years and will likely continue to rise at a similar pace, University administrators say.
Last week, the University’s Vice Chancellor for Finance, Barbara Feiner, announced that tuition for the 2013-14 year will be approximately $44,100, a $1600 or 3.8 percent increase from the 2012-13 year.
Adding a $441 student activity fee and $300 health and wellness fee—both required —students who live in on-campus doubles and choose average meal plans will pay a total of about $59,000 to attend the University next year.
While a select number of national universities have made recent headlines by choosing to freeze or even cut tuition, Feiner said that the Danforth Campus requires more tuition dollars to function.
“There’s a lot of reasons that we don’t feel we can reduce or even keep tuition at the same level,” Feiner said. “Tuition is the largest unrestricted revenue source that we have, so its about two-thirds of the operational revenue of the four schools that have undergrad programs.”
“It’s what we need for our budgets,” she added.
Feiner also noted that the 3.8 percent increase—the same as the previous year’s increase—is actually much more financially forgiving than in previous years.
“The last few years have been the lowest tuition increases since the ‘60s,” she said.
The Washington Post reported last month that two dozen national universities, such as Mount Holyoke College, froze their 2011-12 tuition for the 2012-13 year, and eight schools actually reduced tuition. The University of Charleston is an example of an institution that falls into the latter category.
Provost Ed Macias said that the money provides necessary support to professor salaries as well as building and classroom renovations. Tuition dollars also fund new facilities such as the construction of the Danforth University Center in 2008 that keep the University improving.
“There’s a cost there, but it’s something that we need to provide and the students expect,” Macias said.
Senior Will Draffin said the tuition increases might be particularly important in light of recent cuts to grant funding from groups like the National Institute of Health.
He added that he prefers tuition increases to cutbacks. He noted that while at the University of Maryland, many of his friends have to deal with cuts to things like the varsity running teams, Washington University spends additional money to save in the long-term, such as building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified facilities.
“Most schools and most governments—basically any big organization other than companies that are really out to make money—focus on the moment, in the moment, and don’t really think about investing for the future,” Draffin said. “I think Wash. U.’s done a pretty good job with that.”
While tuition for the University will presumably increase in coming years, Feiner said the University will continue to evaluate its financial situation moving forward. At the moment, she said Washington University’s tuition is fairly similar to that of its peer institutions.
“Tuition is likely to increase, but we do look at it every year and evaluate where we stand and evaluate what we need from a budgetary standpoint,” she said. “We don’t stand still, nor do we want to stand still.”
She added that the rising price of the University is taken into account for financial aid packages, though some students noted that it could still lead to some complications.
“I appreciate what they do on campus here at Wash. U., but I think that rising costs for students who come in with one tuition and a scholarship and when the tuition goes up and the scholarship doesn’t go up, the students who need the scholarship then view the effects of it,” junior Briana Keightley said. “And so I would rather it be fixed and not changing, but I also understand trying to improve the conditions here.”