Editorial: Keeping tuition costs in check

As the economy remains stagnant, the cost of attending Northwestern has reached a new high. On Saturday, Northwestern’s Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition for 2009-10 to $49,791, a 3.6 percent increase. Though proposed in the face of the recession, the price hike is, in fact, quite reasonable. On the whole, it is comparable to increases at peer universities, and is the school’s lowest percentage increase in tuition in more than 40 years. Moreover, NU also announced a 10 percent increase in funding for financial aid and scholarships for the coming year.

With the NU endowment down 24 percent, from $7.4 billion to $5.6 billion, the tuition increase seems a necessity. It is the quickest way to make up for the deficit, which, if left unaddressed, may jeopardize the future of the university, including construction projects and academic funding. It is also a full percentage point down from last year’s 4.8 percent increase – maintaining the university’s downward trend in tuition cost increases.

However, if viewed compared to similar, top-tier institutions, NU is at the middle of pack. For instance, Washington University in St. Lous and Cornell are seeing increases of more than 4 percent, Brown and Princeton are up less than 3 percent, and Stanford and Harvard’s tuitions are increasing by a similar 3.5 percent.

If the economy is not reason enough, NU’s plan to raise both financial aid and scholarships by 10 percent warrants the tuition increases. The university’s investment in its students – even those who are unable to afford its sky-high tuition – is worth the increase. The university is budgeting its resources wisely, showing the same prudence that has enabled NU to remain fiscally strong in this harsh economic climate.