Knapp discusses college affordability at Milken Institute Global Conference

University President Steve Knapp shared his views college affordability and student debt in an interview with Yahoo Finance at the Milken Institute Global Conference this week.

Knapp said in the interview that colleges nationwide are facing pressure to be “innovative” to cut costs and combat rising tuition, especially for state schools and community colleges which receive less less money from the government.

“You still need to grade papers, you still need a number of teachers and facility members. Nevertheless, we are looking at ways to be innovative to reduce costs,” he said in the interview.

Tuition at public universities rose about 3 percent for in-state students and about 3.3 percent for out-of-state students. Tuition rose nearly 4 percent at private universities, according to The College Board.

At GW, next fall’s freshman class will see a 3.4 percent tuition increase and a 3.5 percent cost of attendance increase, the eight straight year of about 3 percent bumps in sticker price.

Knapp added that GW has been “aggressively” raising money for the University’s student aid pool from “private philanthropic funding” to make up for rising tuition. GW’s financial aid pool grew by 3.6 percent this year, an about $6 million increase for undergraduate aid.

In the interview, Knapp said college costs are rising because universities are providing more amenities like mental health resources for students and parent services. Part of GW’s 3.4 percent tuition increase for next fall will go toward funding mental health services on campus. Five clinicians have joined the University Counseling Center since December.

“We are constantly having to hire people because we are being asked to take on burdens in the communities that colleges did not used to be asked to take on,” Knapp said.

He added that many in higher education are worried about how student debt could impact the career choices a student makes after graduation. GW has revamped its career services, offering more specialized advisers and opportunities for students to connect with potential employers. Trustee Mark Shenkman donated $5 million for career services last May.

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