Chancellor defends cost of tuition at annual forum
Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton responded to widespread unease over the rising cost of a Washington University education by assuring students that he is committed to keeping tuition hikes reasonable while maintaining high educational quality.
Around 50 students gathered in Tisch Commons Monday night to take part in the University’s annual Tuition Forum, which featured panel presentations and an open forum in which students could ask high-ranking University officials’ questions.
Wrighton took the occasion to stress the importance of continually working toward the betterment of the University.
“We are striving to improve, and we want to do things that respond to student interests and faculty interest,” he said. “We want to have higher impact [and] we want to build the stature of Washington University.”
Academically, Wrighton said that he considers the University comparable to schools such as Northwestern University, Duke University, Emory University and the University of Pennsylvania.
He noted that maintaining and enhancing the University sometimes requires increased costs for students. But he added that the University is working to increase tuition as little as possible by pulling from gifts and endowment funds.
While the rate of tuition increase is higher than the inflation rate, Wrighton said that the rate is actually at its lowest since the 1960s.
Wrighton said that the University was working to keep the cost of tuition manageable by improving scholarships and financial aid. He said that increased financial aid opportunities will help the school achieve greater socio-economic diversity.
“We’ve significantly increased the annual commitment to scholarships,” Wrighton said. “In fact, we’re outpacing our philanthropic success by the commitments that we are making.”
Specifically, Wrighton noted that the University has raised more than $125 million over the past two years, under a public initiative to attract funds for undergraduate and graduate scholarships.
While some students voiced additional concerns about the high price of room and board, Wrighton said that the price was in keeping with quality of the product that students received.
“We receive very positive responses to the quality of our rooms and residential environment and the food service here,” he said. “So yes, we’re expensive on room and board, but we’re not the highest [among peer institutions] there either.”