University tuition increase lower than average for similar schools

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GW’s cost of attendance increased 2.8 percent over the past year, compared to a 4.3 percent average jump among private, nonprofit universities, according to a study released last week.

The study, conducted by the College Board, totals GW’s cost at $51,775, including tuition, fees, room and board. Last year, GW’s price clocked in at $50,357.

When only tuition and fees – like GW’s student fee – are considered, GW’s cost rose 3 percent since last year. That figure is the lowest tuition increase for GW in at least a decade, according to College Board data.

University President Steven Knapp has made affordability a priority since he took office more than two years ago – including noting it as an interest on his newly created Facebook page. Last week he said he is pleased with the success of a five-year plan he started to improve affordability, which includes quadrupling financial aid fundraising and maintaining the University’s fixed tuition policy, which has been in place since 2004. This year, GW’s total financial aid increased 10.8 percent to $133 million.

“We have purposely moderated tuition increases while retaining our fixed tuition and guaranteed aid,” Knapp said in an e-mail. “At the same time we are aggressively raising funds for student aid. The combination of those factors will improve our Afford ability and access over time, and this should certainly have a positive effect on the way we are perceived by perspective students and their families.”

But though GW’s tuition increase was lower than previous years, the University is still one of the three most expensive schools in the country, according to a different list released this week and compiled by Campus Grotto, a college news Web site.

The University was listed as No. 1 two years ago, and now falls behind Sarah Lawrence College and New York University. The total cost ranking in that study includes tuition and room and board.

The College Board reported that while average cost for universities in this decade has increased at a faster rate than in the last two decades, real cost for attending a private college has actually decreased by $1,120 when financial aid is considered. These figures place the net tuition cost of attending a private university this year at $11,870.

However, Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, told the New York Times that debt from education borrowing in the United States is “unsustainable.”

Financial and education experts expressed concern about future college affordability in the Times article, which came in response to the College Board’s report.

GW’s 13 percent tuition increase in 2004 – when the University switched to a fixed-tuition plan – coincided with the first drop in applications in nine years, The Hatchet reported.

Public colleges have seen an even greater tuition increase – 6.5 percent – than private universities as a result of state budget cuts, according to the New York Times and the College Board. However, the $7,200 average price remains well below the $35,636 average total cost for private institutions.

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