Yesterday’s announcement means the official cost of attending Harvard—including tuition, room, board and student fees—will rise to $35,950 from this year’s $34,269.
In dollar terms, this $1,681 increase is the greatest the College has seen in at least 25 years, surpassing the $1,560 increase in the 1982-1983 academic year. But increases in the 1980s were much larger on a percentage basis than next year’s increase.
According to Sally C. Donahue, the director of financial aid for Harvard College, the increase was determined by considering the operating expense of the College, the performance and income from the endowment and inflation and the strength of the economy.
The fall in the University’s endowment from $19.2 billion to $18.3 billion last fiscal year has led the Harvard Corporation to significantly reduce the growth of money paid out of the endowment to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). This means that growth in endowment income will provide for less of the increases in the FAS budget.
Donahue said that several initiatives the College is undertaking are also contributing to the rise in tuition.
The attempts of FAS to increase the number of freshmen seminars and the number of professors are several of the recent efforts that have increased the operating expenses of the College, Donahue said.
“[The increase in tuition] is not just a reaction to what is happening this year, but it is also a look at the long term projects of the College,” she said. “We are trying to do things that make the value of education better, both inside and outside the classroom.”
And Donahue said part of this year’s increase will go to increasing funds for financial aid. While this increase in aid contributes to a greater rise in tuition, she said not including this additional money would end up hurting many families.
“If the increase in tuition was low, like it has been in previous years, one of the things that would happen is that there would be a constraint on the undergraduate financial aid budget. This would result in preferential treatment for families who could pay,” she said.
This year’s larger increase in the tuition at Harvard seems to follow a national and Ivy League trend.
Cornell leads the Ivies with a 5 percent increase in tuition next year. Princeton and Yale, at 3.9 percent, boast the lowest increase in the league. And at Dartmouth, next year’s 4.4 percent increase represents the first time in over a decade that tuition at that school has increased by more than 3.5 percent.
Among Harvard’s competitors outside of the Ivy League, MIT and Stanford will have 4.7 percent and 4.9 percent increases, respectively.
Cynthia Hartley, director of financial analysis and planning at Stanford University, cited the increased price in the operation of the university for the increase, particularly noting the costs of adding more professors, better technology and better residence halls.
Next year will also bring a 6.4 percent increase in Harvard’s scholarship budget from last year. The increase means the College will devote nearly $68 million to its need-based scholarship program.
Donahue noted this increase in the next year’s scholarship budget is greater than the increase in the tuition for next year.
Over the past four years, the scholarship program has increased by over $22 million, with an increase of $9 million coming in 1998-99 and an increase of $8 million in the last academic year.
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