Tuition bump to fund student life

The University’s highest governing body unanimously approved a 3.7 percent tuition hike Friday, raising next year’s tuition cost by $1,632.

Tuition and fees will stand at $45,780 for all incoming freshmen and undergraduate transfer students during the 2012-2013 academic year.

The increase falls in line with a four-year trend of bumping up tuition by about 3 percent annually – reflecting University President Steven Knapp’s efforts to shake off GW’s reputation as the nation’s most expensive college. Last year, tuition rose by 2.9 percent.

Knapp said the slightly larger uptick will fund additional staff in the revamped career services offices, both at the University-wide and school levels.

“We are making some investments with the new revenue. Of course we’ll continue to develop our academic programs, but also we’re making some new investments in student life and career services,” Knapp said. “We think that’s really important for adding value to our undergraduate student experience here.”

The extra revenue will pad the University’s institutional financial aid pool to offset students’ growing need, Knapp said. The Board will approve next year’s financial aid allotment at its May meeting.

Revenue will also funnel to GW’s athletics programs as the department steps into a new five-year strategic plan, which will include higher team operating budgets, scholarships and facilities upgrades.

The Board of Trustees decides tuition and fee increases annually at its February meeting. The amount does not include the cost of room, board or labs.

Tuition and fees stood at $44,148 this academic year – about $4,900 higher than five years ago, internal data show.

“Obviously we’re staying the course with moderation of our overall tuition costs at the institution,” Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz said, citing inflationary pressures and market basket schools as factors in determining the tuition hike.

The University of North Carolina’s governing body approved a 8.8 percent tuition surge this year, while Princeton University saw a 4.5 percent increase and Brown University upped undergraduate costs by 3.5 percent.

Katz projected that the overall cost of attendance – including tuition, room and board – would increase 3.4 percent. The board pledged in the past to keep tuition increases in check during the financial crisis by matching inflation.

The University’s board fee – which covers the mandatory freshman dining plan – has held steady at $3,400 in each of the past four years, while estimated housing fees hovered between $6,720 and $6,925.

Books, travel and personal expenses are not included.

Continuing students will see no change from the fee set when they entered the University – part of GW’s guarantee to fix tuition for 10 semesters.

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