Many of the measures Harvard has taken recently in response to losses in the endowment have been particularly ill-advised. Specifically, the hiring freeze and the decision to delay Allston development have been unfortunate decisions. Even in the current environment, these priorities of the school should not have been sacrificed. Of course, preventing further cuts to essential programs will be impossible without more funds, and a tuition increase is one sensible way of generating those funds.
It should also be noted that this expected increase is in line with previous years’ and also with tuition increases at peer institutions. Princeton this year announced that it would raise its tuition by 2.9 percent, Dartmouth by 4.8, and Cornell by 4.9. Harvard is not at all unique in this respect.
The 3.5 percent increase will bring the total tuition package (which includes room and board) to $48,868.
This increase will be paired, however, with a corresponding increase in financial aid disbursement, which should mitigate the overall impact of the tuition hike. In other words, Harvard will still be able to meet the financial needs of every admitted student, regardless of the price of tuition.
Going forward, Harvard should consider expanding its financial aid programs to families that currently do not qualify for assistance. Since total financial aid output is expected to rise to a record $147 million
next year, perhaps the upper boundary of qualification could be raised to accommodate students who currently pay full price, but who are also presumably feeling the pinch of the economic crisis.
While it is easy to complain about The College’s plan to increase tuition in these difficult times, one must realize that it is precisely at these times that, as a community, we must take steps to ensure that our institution does not languish.