Financial aid, tuition set to rise

Feb. 24, 2012, 3:04 a.m.

Financial aid packages are expected to rise in response to the Board of Trustee’s decision earlier this month to approve a 3-percent tuition increase for the 2012-13 academic year, according to Director of Financial Aid Karen Cooper.


The tuition increase for undergraduates is the lowest rise in 40 years, according to Assistant Vice President for University Communications Lisa Lapin. The Board of Trustees raised tuition by 3.5 percent during each of the past four years, by 5.17 percent for the 2007-08 academic year and by 5.4 percent for the 2006-07 academic year.


“Our commitment to meet full need for continuing students has not changed,” Cooper said in an email to The Daily. “As costs go up, if a student’s need increases, their financial aid eligibility will also increase.”


Financial aid, tuition set to rise
(SERENITY NGUYEN/The Stanford Daily)

The Board of Trustees announced the increase in tuition fees Feb. 6, after evaluating rising costs the University incurs. Undergraduate and general graduate tuition will both rise from $40,500 to $41,250 next year. Graduate engineering tuition will climb from $42,660 to 43,950 and law school tuition will increase from $47,460 to $48,870.


Including a 3.5-percent increase for room and board, the annual cost of an undergraduate Stanford education will now be $54,506 instead of $52,341.


“Tuition recommendations are made to the Board of Trustees after a financial analysis of the University’s estimated income from all sources–not only tuition, but endowment revenue and research revenue–and estimated expenses, including anticipated financial aid rewards,” Lapin said.


The Financial Aid Office hopes that news of a price increase will not deter prospective applicants who feel they may not be able to afford a Stanford education. Students from lower-income backgrounds and abroad are of special concern, according to Cooper.


She said that that the Financial Aid Office does not plan to deviate from the commitment it made four years ago to allow students from families with a total annual income of less than $60,000 to attend Stanford without paying at all.


Similarly, students from families with a total annual income less than $100,000 will receive at least enough scholarship funds to cover tuition.


International students often do not receive need-blind admission, but are still assisted by the Financial Aid Office, Cooper added.


“For admitted international students who indicate they will need assistance during the admission process, we have the same commitment to meet full need,” Cooper said. “While the same income figures may not apply for those living in other countries, the spirit still applies.”


According to Lapin, 49 percent of Stanford students receive need-based aid, while 79 percent receive some form of financial assistance. Financial aid to undergraduates has doubled since 2008, Lapin said.


Cooper said that the University Budget Committee is currently considering whether to increase the portion students are expected to contribute to their University bills through an academic year job or federal work study. Students are currently expected to pay up to $5,000, compared to $4,500 prior to the 2008-09 academic year.


Work study is a component of the University bill that the Financial Aid Office feels students can earn through a combination of summer and academic earnings in order avoid student loans, Cooper said. According to Cooper, the Committee should have a decision within a few weeks about whether to increase work study again.


Stanford’s fee hike corresponds with similar increases at peer institutions.


For the 2012-13 academic year, Princeton University increased its tuition by 4.5 percent, which the university said would be offset by expanding its financial aid budget by 5.5 percent.


“Our financial aid recipients are more or less protected from tuition increases because as tuition goes up, aid also goes up,” said Princeton Financial Aid Director Robin Moscato. “Aid generally goes up more than the increase in our costs. We keep our net price down by providing increased aid every year.”


Harvard and Yale raised their tuition by 3.8 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively, last year. At time of publication, these two universities had not made any official announcements regarding tuition increases for the upcoming academic year.


Lapin noted that percentage increases among universities will vary accordingly, since private universities determine tuition independently, based on different considerations and cost models.


“When average cost of attendance is calculated, which includes what students actually pay on average after financial aid, Stanford is usually relatively low among private universities,” Lapin said.


According to Lapin, Stanford’s tuition is below the median for its peer group, which she said is comprised of 15 private universities.


Despite consistent tuition increases of at least three percent in the past four academic years, Stanford undergraduate and graduate students and their families have not been asked to take on a significantly larger financial burden, Cooper said.


The University of California Board of Regents increased tuition at state universities by 18 percent during the current academic year.


Affordable higher education has been a central concern for student Occupy movements. Student participants in the Occupy Stanford movement will join students and activists from around the state in Berkeley next Thursday to engage in a rally supporting public education.


One of the demands of Occupy Education California, the group organizing the protest and a weeklong series of events, is “universal and free public education,” according to the group’s site.

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