The George Washington University set a new record Feb. 9 as the first college to break the $50,000 mark in total cost of attendance.
The figure approved by the university’s Board of Trustees for the Class of 2011 includes tuition of $39,210, a food allowance of $3,400 and housing prices of $8,020, for a total of $50,630.
“I know we’re right up there,” said Dan Small, GWU’s director of student financial assistance. “We’re the first, I guess, that officially made the move.”
Small acknowledged some trepidation about the mark, but believed it wasn’t overly significant.
“You always get concerned when you reach a milestone like that,” he said. “But the university is committed to providing financial aid to those who need it.”
GWU also announced its expectation to offer approximately $118 million in financial aid, a 4.7 percent increase from the previous class. The tuition increase, by contrast, represents a 3.8 percent increase.
“The amount of money that is set aside for financial aid recipients has always outpaced the increase in the tuition dollar amount,” said Small. “We realize that we do need to set aside a substantial amount of money in financial aid so we can have a diverse population and so we can attract students from all over the country.”
The hike came as a surprise to Lamar Thorpe, president of the GWU student association. “I’ll be quite honest, I had no idea about it,” he said. “They had it during their closed session of the Board of Trustees.”
“I did go to the chairman-elect,” he added. “In the future that it would be best to at least talk to student leadership about tuition increases so that it doesn’t come as a shock or a surprise to anybody else. I was caught off guard with it and I didn’t even get a chance to really think about it until after the fact.”
“It’s unfortunate that each year an already high and inflated tuition is on the rise,” said Robert Platt, a GWU sophomore in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and a student senator. “It creates a stigma that we’re an elitist institution based on price alone.”
“It would be nice if, for a couple of years, it didn’t go up, said Platt.
By university estimates, approximately 60 percent of GWU undergraduates receive some financial aid from the university, and the average student receives just under $20,000.
There was no increase in the food allowance, but housing prices rose 5.5 percent in the Board’s decision.
Graduate program tuition rose 4.3 percent to $1,012 per credit hour and law school tuition rose 5.2 percent to $38,198 for full-time law students.
The hike for undergraduate tuition will only apply to incoming students under GWU’s fixed-tuition system, in which tuition for students in a given class is guaranteed not to increase for five years.
The incoming Class of 2011 will be the fourth to fall under the fixed-tuition program. The first, the Class of 2008, has tuition of $34,000 annually.