Small tuition increase reasonable for new students

President Jared Cohon emailed members of the university last week with two important announcements: the Inspire Innovation capital campaign hit the $1 billion milestone, and tuition for the 2012–13 academic year is going to be increased. The fundraising milestone is a major accomplishment for the university and its supporters, and we hope potential donors continue to invest in Carnegie Mellon’s future.

That said, most current and prospective students were more interested in the tuition increase. Although we regret the necessity of annual tuition increases due to inflation and economic pressures, we support the Board of Trustees’ decision to implement a relatively modest increase in tuition rates next year.

Many students’ first reaction to tuition increases is frustration or anger — after all, Carnegie Mellon already has one of the highest tuitions in the country. However, the university’s rapid rise in prominence in recent decades has created financial shortfalls relative to comparable institutions. University leaders would prefer to fund financial aid, for example, largely from the endowment, but they are currently unable to do so. Only through continued fundraising successes like the Inspire Innovation campaign will these goals be reached.

Additionally, we support the university’s leaders in their efforts to involve undergraduate students in the consideration of each year’s tuition. Michael Murphy, vice president for Campus Affairs, hosts an annual dinner where administrators, faculty, parents, and students discuss the undergraduate experience at Carnegie Mellon, particularly tuition and fees. These events, and others like them, should continue in future years.

University administrators are aware of the financial and human costs of tuition increases, but they also have a responsibility to continue improving Carnegie Mellon’s educational quality and student experiences.

This year’s modest tuition increase is an effective balance between students’ finances and the university’s future.