The University will raise tuition by 3 percent for the incoming freshman class, but there will be a $6 million increase in need-based institutional grants, the Board of Trustees announced at its meeting Friday.
“Affordability is a national issue,” University President Steven Knapp said. “We are trying to address the issue of affordability and our need to make sure that we have a long term plan to … reduce overall costs.”
Other ways the Board plans to make GW more affordable include making room and board less expensive for 1,000 incoming students and initiating a five-year plan to quadruple fundraising for student aid per year from $10 million to $40 million. The University will also offer $118 million in financial aid next year.
“We must make sure that the students that are qualified to come (to the University) can continue to do so,” Knapp said. “We are moving in the direction of need-based aid as opposed to merit-based aid because that addresses the issue of affordability.”
According to an October 2007 College Board report, tuition at colleges across the country increased an average of 6.3 percent compared to the previous year. Since 2004, GW has offered fixed tuition, a plan that allows students to pay the same tuition rate for up to five years of undergraduate coursework.
“Tuition can’t be decreased, but you can control overall costs,” said Tracy Schario, a spokesperson for the University.
Last year, GW became the first university in the nation to charge more than $50,000 a year in total expenses, according to the Associated Press. Schario said given GW’s fixed tuition program.
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said the increase in financial aid will help maintain economic diversity at GW, though with a troubled national economy, it is hard to predict whether it will truly make GW more affordable for more people.
“You don’t want (students) having to work to the point that it interrupts their studies,” Lehman said about the benefits of doling out more aid.
Knapp said because GW has a relatively small endowment, the University must rely on tuition revenue to fund financial aid. GW has a $1.147 billion endowment and is ranked No. 64 in a list of endowment values by the National Association of College and Business Officers. This academic year, about 60 percent of undergraduate students received financial aid, with an average award of $20,400.
Schario said upcoming construction projects like Square 54, which will be developed into retail, housing and offices, will help GW finance its ability to offer students financial aid.
“Square 54 will provide revenue for the University and allow us to move away from being tuition-driven,” she said.
Nelson Carbonell, chair of the Board of Trustees’ committee on development and alumni relations, said one of the University’s goals is to “dramatically increase student aid.”
“It is one of the things we do to make sure that a GW education is student-accessible,” he said.
Knapp will continue to work at fundraising this year by taking trips to meet alumni around the U.S. and worldwide. This year he has a trip to Korea planned and deans, including Michael Brown of the Elliott School, will also be traveling in hopes of procuring funds for the University.