Student leaders declare victory in $50 estimated cost of attendance increase

The University’s financial office said last week it will increase the estimated cost of attendance by $50 next fall to better account for personal fees.

After a yearlong focus on fees by top student leaders, Associate Vice President for Financial Assistance Dan Small bumped the cost estimate for personal expenses from $1,400 to $1,450.

“We realize some students may have higher fee charges, but we felt this was the only way in which this office could address this issue by increasing the ‘miscellaneous’ fees,” Small said.

The administrator said he and Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak reached out to the SA after reading a report from their fee commission early this semester.

The student-led committee laid out 10 costs students may incur while enrolled at GW, such as student health visits, study abroad programs and printing, which could amount to about $8,600 for students who use all the services mentioned in the report.

Sen. John Bennett, U-At-Large and member of the fee commission, said there are other fees not included in the report because “it is impossible to measure” the indirect fees coming out of student organizations’ pockets.

“I think the University is cognizant of the fact that they’re probably low-balling the cost of attendance,” Bennett said of the $50 uptick. “I don’t think it goes all the way, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Student Association President John Richardson lauded the $50 increase – which he acknowledged is one-1,000th of the cost of attending GW for one year – as “a big win” for the fee transparency effort he has led since the fall.

“In essence, this is accomplishing what we were trying to do with the fee commission, to find out what the hell students are paying and go by that figure,” Richardson said. “[This estimate] is better in line with what an average student can expect to pay.”

In addressing the issue of fees not factored into a student’s financial aid package, the 13-member fee commission argues that students could become eligible to receive more financial assistance or loan credit with higher acknowledged personal expenses, but GW does not pledge to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need.

Small declined to comment how the $50 increase compared to past adjustments made to estimate costs.

Cost of attendance is broken down into tuition, room and board, personal expenses, transportation costs, SA and matriculation fees and books and supplies – totaling about $60,000 per year.

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