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Undergraduate tuition increased by 3.2 percent for next academic year

Last week, Carnegie Mellon’s Board of Trustees approved a 3.2 percent increase in undergraduate tuition for the 2020/2021 academic year, setting tuition at $57,560, room and board at $9,210, and a “traditional first-year meal plan” at $6,340 a year.

This year’s tuition increase follows a 2.9 percent increase for the 2019/2020 academic year, and a 2.87 percent increase the previous year. The 3.2 percent increase will largely support the costs of instruction, as Provost James H. Garrett told The Tartan in a statement.

According to the Provost’s office, Carnegie Mellon spends “nearly half” of its operating budget on instruction and educational services for undergraduate and graduate students. In the fiscal year of 2019, “tuition alone covered only 44 percent of these expenses,” Garrett stated.

Garrett added that in addition to instruction costs, the university must “make significant strategic investments” relative to student experience, citing costs like the ongoing 20 million dollar classroom renovation project, new facilities like the recently completed ANSYS Hall, and newly built spaces in Posner Hall.

In the emailed announcement sent to students, Provost Garrett said that “we expect Carnegie Mellon’s contribution to financial aid for undergraduate students to increase 3.8 percent.” “We are committed to expand access to a Carnegie Mellon education by making it as affordable as possible,” Garrett said.

Carnegie Mellon’s financial aid budget “regularly increases in relative proportion to the increase in tuition so the university’s commitments to current students with financial aid can be met,” Garrett told The Tartan. He said that the endowment, as well as donations from alumni and friends of the university, supports from 10 to 12 percent of the undergraduate financial aid budget.

Students shouldn’t expect to get more in federal loans next year to make up for the cost of increased tuition, however. The limits for federal loans provided to university students, last set in 2012, are not expected to change prior to next school year. Because the federal loan amounts have “remained flat,” Garrett states that universities “have made up that gap” with university money and financial aid.

Garrett told The Tartan that some of his top priorities as provost are affordability for students. He noted that “financial aid is not enough” to attract a “more diverse student community to CMU.” Garrett cited two recent efforts that try to expand on financial aid: the Tartan Scholars Program, which supports the needs of a selected group of 50 academically high-achieving students from a low-income background, and the Provost’s Inclusive Teaching Fellows program, which grants $5,000 to selected faculty who utilize inclusive teaching methods.

Last year, Garrett said, Carnegie Mellon was able to provide "97 percent of demonstrated financial need." As of now, the university “cannot currently guarantee to meet the full financial need of all our admitted students,” but, Garrett stated, “we are committed to this goal and have been making significant progress toward that goal.”

Matthew Benusa contributed reporting to this article