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Tuition to rise 2.98% next year

This year’s increase of 2.98 percent for all undergraduates follows on the heels of last year’s even smaller increase of 2.94 percent. (credit: Celia Ludwinski/Photo Editor) This year’s increase of 2.98 percent for all undergraduates follows on the heels of last year’s even smaller increase of 2.94 percent. (credit: Celia Ludwinski/Photo Editor)

Carnegie Mellon has recently announced one of its lowest tuition increases in decades. This year’s increase of 2.98 percent for all undergraduates follows on the heels of last year’s even smaller increase of 2.94 percent.

Although the tuition increase is the same for undergraduates, students will still pay different amounts, ranging from $39,222 to $41,500, depending on their class level.

“Carnegie Mellon has had a system of tiered increases in the past that helped to hold the line on costs for enrolled students,” said Ken Walters, Carnegie Mellon’s senior media relations director. “For students who entered Carnegie Mellon in 2006, tuition will be $39,222. Tuition for students who came to Carnegie Mellon in 2007 will be $40,740. For students who entered the university in 2008 or 2009, tuition will be $41,500.”

Room and board costs for undergraduates staying on campus have also increased by 4 to 6 percent, depending on the particular living accommodations. On average, housing will now cost $6500 (including the $300 reservation fee) per year, while board will cost $4500. In total, the Carnegie Mellon admissions department estimates that the 2010–11 academic year will cost upperclassmen upwards of $50,000, while incoming first-years will pay upwards of $52,000.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Carnegie Mellon is the most expensive educational institution in Pennsylvania and the seventh most expensive in the country this academic year.

“It is worth noting that Carnegie Mellon has always delivered exceptional educational programs at a comparatively low cost, as compared to many of our peer institutions,” said Michael Murphy, the vice president for campus affairs. “In fact, U.S. News and World Report rated the university as a Great School, Great Price in its rankings this year.”

The new tuition increase is, by a significant margin, one of Carnegie Mellon’s smallest increases in 35 years, slightly larger than last year’s record-breaking lowest increase of 2.94 percent. Prior to 2009, Carnegie Mellon’s tuition increased between 5 and 8 percent each year, but the university quickly re-evaluated this practice after the economic recession hit.

“Carnegie Mellon uses tuition to sustain educational and student life programs and initiatives of all types, as well as to support financial aid, which is especially critical at this time,” Murphy said. “These economic times present a challenge for the university, but also for our students and their families, so a relatively low increase is the right thing to do.”

Of course, tuition increases, no matter how small, are never welcomed by anyone, particularly during tough economic times. This conflict is heightened by the community’s and the city’s recent debate over a proposed tuition tax. However, there seems to be a general sentiment among the campus community that such increases are necessary to maintain the quality that is unique to Carnegie Mellon.

“I find it hard to hold it against the university because they hire top-tier teachers and researchers, and that is expensive,” said sophomore business administration major Jie Zhao.

“Many of us probably came here to learn from these people, so it makes sense that we should have to pay for them and to keep them.”

Murphy agrees that tuition increases are neccesary to maintain the quality of the university.

“We continually hear the same refrain from both parents and students — that maintaining the extraordinary quality of our educational programs is of paramount importance to them.”

Even with one of the highest tuitions in the country, Carnegie Mellon still must rely on the charity of donors and alumni, as well as on other various student fees, to break even.

“Tuition does not cover the total cost of educating a full-time student.” Murphy said. “We work very hard, just as our students do, to continuously enhance our standing as one of the world’s great universities.”