Board approves 3 percent tuition hike

The Board of Trustees approved a 3 percent tuition increase at its meeting Friday, alongside a $10 million boost to financial aid funding.

Tuition for enrolled students does not change under GW’s fixed tuition program, so the new pricing of $42,860 applies to the incoming class of 2014 and transfer students.

The change marks the third year in a row that tuition will increase by 3 percent. The average tuition increase for private universities in 2009 was 4.3 percent – the lowest increase in decades – according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“We recognize this is a national issue,” University President Steven Knapp said after the meeting, referring to college affordability. “But we have to take a role in our institution to address it.”

Nearly 60 universities surpassed the $50,000 benchmark for total cost last year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. In recent years, GW has been ranked as the most expensive school in the nation, but is now listed in fifth place, according to the Chronicle.

Sarah Lawrence College now tops the Chronicle’s list as the most expensive school, followed by Landmark College, Georgetown and New York University in the second, third and fourth spots, respectively.

This year’s boost to financial aid was lower than last year’s – when the board voted to add $13 million to aid funding – but Knapp said the University may put additional money toward that cause as needed. The University plans to admit a smaller freshman class than last year, which accounts for the lower funding level dedicated at the board meeting, Knapp said. The total amount of institutional aid for next year will be around $143 million, after the $10 million boost.

More than 60 percent of the GW undergraduate population receives some form of financial aid, and the average aid package is $24,500 per year, trustee Allan From said.

“We want to make sure that people from all backgrounds who are deserving are given the opportunity to come here,” From said. “The board wants to make the University as affordable for as many as possible.”

From was not physically present at Friday’s board meeting because his flight from Raleigh, N.C. was canceled after last week’s historic snowstorm. From, like some other board members and University officials, participated via telephone.

The board – which meets three times a year in October, February, and May – also voted to increase the overall cost of attendance for incoming undergraduate students by no more than 2.8 percent. Cost of attendance includes room and board and fees, and was $55,625 for the class that entered in fall of 2009. A 2.8 percent increase to that number would be $57,182.

Last year, GW’s cost of attendance also increased 2.8 percent, which is almost 2 percent lower than the national average jump among private, nonprofit universities, according to an October study conducted by the Chronicle.

Knapp also said after the meeting that he and other senior administrators hope to hire a University provost in the next “few weeks.” He declined to share the current candidates’ names but said that after a series of on-campus meetings, the University has reduced the pool to two candidates.

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