GW popularity influenced tuition hike

GW’s growing popularity is one reason for the unusually large tuition increase, budget officials said.

Assistant Vice President for Finance Don Boselovic said three factors drive tuition up each year: application trends, prices of competing schools and new programs.

GW received 16,000 applications this year as of last month, 15 percent more than last year. Boselovic said with more demand for the University, GW is able to raise its price.

University officials will not raise tuition significantly over institutions in GW’s “market basket,” with whom they compete for applicants, he said.

The University adds what it needs for new programs into the tuition increase. This year debt services increased because of several new GW buildings, and money for facilities received a significant boost.

About half of the tuition increase will be spent on facilities and paying off debts from projects such as the Health and Wellness Center, Marvin Center renovations, Mount Vernon athletic fields and Virginia campus development,

“I didn’t have anything to do with setting up the budget, but I am glad they are allotting money for the many projects,” said Michael Peller, who oversees GW facilities. GW plans to complete a new Elliott School of Internation Affairs site this fall and break ground for a business school this spring.

About 11 percent, or $1.8 million, of the increases earmarked for academic spending goes toward program support, which includes graduate teaching assistant stipend increases, classroom technology and matching outside research funds, Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said.

“Basically those priorities took up that $1.8 million (increase),” Boselovic said.

About 36 percent, or $5.9 million, of the academic funds pay for staff salaries. The largest portion, $8.8 million, pays for buildings.

Students said they want to see academics take a higher priority in the University’s budget.

Sophomore Will Harper, who said he was “taken aback” when he found out about the increase, said the extra revenue should go to creating more class sections.

“We’re paying all this money, then we look on the internet and we get classes closed,” Harper said. “I’m outraged. I don’t think it’s worth it in the first place.”

Lehman said this year’s academic budget grew after GW accepted 300 more students than it expected. The University added $1 million last spring for “costs associated with extra students,” he said. The money went to hiring more faculty, teaching fellows and professional advisers and adding extra lab sections to accommodate a record 2,550 new freshman.

“Those faculty are already in budget for this year,” Lehman said.

Sophomore Erin Devine said she worries about being able to afford GW in the future.

“If the percent increase keeps going up, I don’t know if I’ll be able to come back,” said Devine, who said her father, a project manager, was laid off after Sept. 11.

Devine’s mother, Bonnie Devine, said she has not been notified by GW of the tuition increase and shares her daughter’s concerns.

Bonnie Devine said she learned of last year’s 4.4 percent tuition increase in a letter outlining financial aid for the next year that arrived in their Massachusetts home in July.

“It is going to be a hardship,” said Devine, who said she and her husband David will have three children in college starting next year.”(Erin) loves GW, and we’re going to do everything we can so she can finish school.”

Boselovic said need-based financial aid is increased in proportion with tuition each year.

Freshman Jonathan Liu said GW should focus new funds on attaining a “first-tier” ranking.

“You pay so much money, I think the first priority should be your education,” he said, rather than spending money on “nice dorms.”

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