Officials set to raise tuition

Since at least 1990, GW has never had a year without passing a tuition increase. The year 2005 will be no different for sophomores and juniors, who may pay as much as $32,515 in tuition next year.

On Friday, University officials will ask the Board of Trustees, the institution’s highest decision-making body, to raise tuition by 4.5 to 5.5 percent for sophomores and juniors. Freshmen and next year’s incoming class pay a fixed tuition that does not change during their time at GW.

Officials cautioned that while the 35-person board usually passes their recommendations, it could approve a lower or higher tuition hike. Under a plan presented at a Wednesday meeting between student leaders and officials, sophomores will pay at least $32,207 and as much as $32,515 in tuition; juniors will pay between $31,904 and $32,209, not counting room and board costs, which are expected to rise by 4.5 to 5 percent.

At Wednesday’s meeting, officials said they need to increase tuition every year to improve GW programs and student life. Over the past five years, undergraduate tuition has increased by an annual average of 4.6 percent.

“We understand that we need to continue to invest in our programs and facilities,” said Louis Katz, executive vice president and treasurer.

Katz said the hike would yield $31 million in extra revenue, $10 million of which will be spent on financial aid. An additional $7.2 million will be given to academic programs; student life initiatives will receive a $3.1 million boost.

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said he is trying to balance the financial needs of students while making sure that academic and quality of life needs are being addressed.

“We know that this is not an inexpensive institution,” Trachtenberg said in response to a question about student indebtedness. “We are trying to find more ways to make it unacceptable.”

The University is also allocating $2.3 million to residence hall renovations, a decision partly prompted by Student Association President Omar Woodard’s calls for upgrades of buildings that are somewhat dilapidated. Dorm renovations were one of the pillars of Woodard’s campaign platform.

“I’m very pleased that 2.3 million dollars is earmarked for renovations,” Woodard said in an interview following Wednesday’s meeting. “It’s a huge win for students.”

Woodard expressed disappointment that officials are not giving the Gelman Library a larger budget increase. The library’s budget is slated to increase by $500,000.

“We can’t be a research institution without a top-tier library,” said Woodard, who said more money should be put toward collections and renovations.

Tuition for graduate students will rise by 4.5 to 5.5 percent. Law tuition will increase by between 5 and 6 percent, while taking classes at the GW medical school will cost 2 to 3 percent more next year.

The rise in tuition for sophomores and juniors was not predicated by officials’ inability to raise tuition for freshmen, which pay a fixed rate, Katz said. He added that tuition increases hinge on GW’s needs and the prices charged by similar institutions.

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