Tuition 11th highest

Tuition is on the rise, according to a new College Board list citing Carnegie Mellon as having the 11th highest tuition in the U.S.

As a private university, Carnegie Mellon receives funding from its endowment, tuition, and research grants from a variety of sources. There have been many initiatives to increase the school’s endowment, the biggest and most productive being the “Inspire Innovation” capital campaign in which the school aims to raise $1 billion. The public phase of the campaign was kicked off at the B There event at Homecoming. According to Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon, $550 million had already been raised in the campaign’s private phase.

In an e-mail message last week, Cohon revealed that the Board of Trustees met over Homecoming weekend to discuss the effects of the economy on the school’s finances.

“As you know, the period since June 30 has been terrible, with the markets experiencing losses of an historic scale,” Cohon stated. “Our endowment has done better than the overall market, but, nonetheless, we were down an additional 9.5% as of September 30.”

Cohon mentioned a plan to reduce withdrawals from the endowment after this year, and increase fundraising efforts, although fundraising in itself will get more difficult.

Yet, Cohon reassured the campus community that he is “confident that we will get through this.”

The rising market trend indicates that students can expect an increase in tuition costs from year to year.

While Carnegie Mellon uses its endowment in supporting the university, it relies heavily on tuition for its daily operating costs and academic programs, costs which are continually growing.

Carnegie Mellon, among other institutions, will face the dilemma of finding sources of increased funding to provide for the growing demand for financial aid.

A New York Times article noted that most students usually apply for some type of financial aid from the schools they apply to as well as petition the government for loans and grants. Yet, some private and public institutions may be forced to reduce the amount of merit-based scholarships so eagerly sought after by students with good grades and high test scores.

“High school seniors really have to consider the total cost of living for the colleges they apply to this year,” said Libby Adams, sophomore information systems major. “For me, financial aid was the main factor in my college choice after I received my acceptance letters.”

Tuition costs are not the only concern for prospective students. Ranked 11th as the college with the highest tuition, Carnegie Mellon is also ranked 11th by the College Board for the highest total cost. Factoring in room and board, the estimated total cost for the 2008–2009 year is $49,200 according to the College Board website. This figure does not include expenses that students incur, such as fees for activities and the costs for books, supplies, and food.

Interestingly, the Ivy League schools were not featured on either list in a ranking higher than Carnegie Mellon. Neither Harvard, Yale, Stanford, nor the University of Pennsylvania were listed in the top 25 highest tuition or total costs. Harvard placed as the 118th most expensive college in tuition and 108th in total cost.

If additional funds and loans can be obtained to reduce the level of family contribution, money may not be an issue of concern for some students. “Tuition was not a factor in deciding where to attend college because loans were readily available. In my eyes, a ‘good education’ mean[s] more than the price tag,” said Amanda Davenport, a sophomore Tepper business administration student.

Students should be aware, though, of the loans they use to pay for college. Some loans and grants do not adjust to cover rising tuition costs according to the website Campus Grotto. President-elect Barack Obama, who just recently paid off his college loans, has spoken frequently about his concerns for college students and the debt they may incur after graduation. His economic plans include a feature for college students to earn a $4,000 credit in return for completing community service hours.

What remains to be seen is the effect of the economy on students after graduation, when they will face the world of a struggling economy, a slim job market, and a depreciating dollar.