University tuition now 10th in U.S.

The value of a Carnegie Mellon education will rise even higher this coming school year — in tuition and fees, at least. Incoming first-years will be paying the 10th-highest college tuition in the nation for the 2008–2009 school year.

The price list was made by The Chronicle of Education, which annually ranks colleges and universities nationwide based on their tuitions and fees.

Carnegie Mellon has announced a tuition increase beginning in the 2008 fall semester that will be tiered, or based on students’ entering years.

Incoming first-years will see a 6 percent increase from the current tuition, raising the total to $39,150.

While this increase may seem large, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that college tuitions increase by an average of 6 percent annually.

Last year, incoming first-years paid $35,984 for tuition and fees.

Current undergraduates will be seeing a 4 percent increase. Students that entered the university in 2005, 2006, and 2007, will pay $35,780, $37,000, and $38,430, respectively.

Even with the rise in tuition, Carnegie Mellon’s costs are still slightly below those of the most expensive college in the nation, Landmark College in Putney, Vt., where tuition and fees alone cost $41,275.

The top five most expensive colleges and universities are rounded out by George Washington University, Texas Culinary Academy, Kenyon College, and Bucknell University.

In addition to Carnegie Mellon’s tuition increase, room and board costs for all students will see a 4.1 percent increase, bringing the estimated total to $5,860 for room and $4,160 for board, which includes estimated food costs, dorm activity fees, and other residential fees such as laundry, according to a Carnegie Mellon press release.

However, these costs do not include books, supplies, or any other personal costs. As mentioned in the press release, students who entered in 2007 will pay an estimated $51,355 for tuition, room, board, and these personal costs such as books.

“The increase will help us to maintain the quality [of our educational programs] and provide a positive experience that allows students to lay the foundation for future success, both professionally and personally,” said William Elliott, Carnegie Mellon’s vice president for Enrollment, in the press release.

Tuition is used to sustain and grow programs at Carnegie Mellon, and to support the expansion of undergraduate education initiatives and the improvement of laboratory facilities.

“Our goal is to provide the very best learning environment for our students,” Elliot stated in the press release.

The tuition increase was approved by the Board of Trustees at their Feb. 22 meeting. Before deciding on the increase, the university asked for input from students and parents through a series of open forums.

“When we talk with parents and students about tuition, they always note how important it is that we maintain the quality of our educational programs,” Elliott commented in the press release.

Carnegie Mellon is consistently ranked among the top 25 research universities by U.S. News & World Report; the institution was ranked 22nd in 2007, in addition to receiving high rankings for many of its individual departments.

Students had mixed reactions to the news.

Jill Perkins, a sophomore professional writing major who transferred to Carnegie Mellon last year from Duquesne said that all the money paid is well spent.

Perkins called Duquesne a moderately priced institution at about $32,000 a year in tuition and fees.

“I really have to say that I see my extra money being spent well, and truly feel that I am in a better place, and that the extra 20 grand that I’m shouting out has already put me ahead of where I was last year,” Perkins said in an e-mail.

In the wake of rising tuition, some Ivy League colleges have recently been working to greatly lower costs for especially needy students.

Harvard University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, and most recently Stanford University, offer free tuition, room and board for families with incomes lower than $60,000 while also offering competitive deals for families with incomes up to $120,000.

However, Carnegie Mellon does not have a large enough endowment to do the same, with an endowment about 35 times smaller than Harvard’s ($34.6 billion compared to $1 billion).

As of last school year, more than 63 percent of Carnegie Mellon students receive some form of financial aid through scholarships, grants, or work-study, according to the press release.

However, according to a Feb. 23 article from the The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, tuition alone does not cover all the costs needed to provide financial aid and run a university. For this reason, Carnegie Mellon continues to find alternative means of funding through investments, foundations, and alumni donations, in addition to donations from current students.

Rising tuition costs do not seem to be deterring potential new first-years.

According to the press release, as of Feb. 1, Carnegie Mellon received 21,747 applications for the 1360 spots in the incoming first-year class.