Increase in tuition near U.S. average

Sheila Burt

Next year’s undergraduate tuition will increase by 5.4 percent from $28,404 to $29,940, university officials announced Monday.

The percentage increase is the highest in the past six years, but it falls slightly below the projected national average, according to national data.

Northwestern’s Board of Trustees also approved a 4.75 percent increase from $8,814 to $9,233 for room and board. The amounts are based on undergraduates living in a double room and using the standard 16-meal-per-week board plan.

The Board of Trustees approved the increases at a meeting Saturday.

Tuition increased by 4.8 percent last year and by 4.9 percent the year before that.

Eugene Sunshine, NU’s senior vice president for business and finance, said the 5.4 percent increase is “nothing exceptional and nothing especially out of the ordinary” when considering the costs that the university is incurring.

Sunshine said to determine the tuition increase, the university looks at expected cost obligations and different revenue sources from the university. He added that the raise will fund salary increases as well as increased heath care, energy costs and general operating expenses.

“While we don’t know all of what schools will be doing, my guess is (the rise is) going to be consistent — in the ballpark — of what others are likely to do,” Sunshine said.

NU also will increase the total amount of grant funds for undergraduate financial aid by the same percentage as the tuition increase.

Jim Elsass, associate vice president for budget planning, said finding the right tuition increase amount often is a case of finding a middle ground.

“We don’t want to be super aggressive on the revenue side, but we also want to be responsive to the needs of our programs,” Elsass said.

National tuition increase averages this year are expected to be between 5.5 and 6 percent, according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. The estimate is based on general trends and information from college presidents.

Last year the average increase for universities was 6 percent, slightly higher than NU’s increase.

“I think it is a good indication of Northwestern’s ability to manage its resources that it’s been able to keep tuition increase as low as it has,” said Tony Pals of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Total undergraduate costs will increase by 5.3 percent. Tuition, the Student Activities Fee, and room and board will total $39,318 next year, compared with $37,338 for the current academic year.

Also included in the total undergraduate costs is a new athletic events fee of $25 the Board also approved Saturday. The fee, developed by the Associated Student Government, allows full-time undergraduate students to be admitted without charge to all of NU’s home athletic events.

The Board also approved tuition rates for many of its graduate and professional programs. Graduate school tuition will increase by 5.4 percent from $28,404 to $29,940 next year. The school saw a 7.1 percent increase last year.

Law School tuition will increase 5.9 percent to $35,896, and tuition for the Feinberg School of Medicine will increase 4 percent to $38,528. Tuition for the Kellogg School of Management will be announced in a few months, as the school traditionally waits longer to decide its increase.