January 23, 2012

Overall Cost of Attendance Jumps to $57,041

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The Board of Trustees approved a $1,860 increase in the cost of tuition for the fall of 2012 on Friday, the University said Monday.

The overall cost of tuition, room and board, and other mandatory fees for undergraduate students in the endowed colleges — the College of Architecture, Art and Planning; the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Hotel Administration; and the College of Engineering — will increase 4.4 percent to $57,041. Next year’s new rates follow an increase of 4.8 percent in 2011 and a 4.5 percent increase in 2010 for the endowed colleges.

Following the trend of at least the past three academic years, the tuition increase for in-state students in Cornell’s contract colleges — the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; the College of Human Ecology; and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations — will exceed that of students in the endowed colleges. The tuition for New York state residents enrolled in Cornell’s statutory colleges will increase by 7.4 percent, to $27,045 from $25,185. For out-of-state students in the statutory colleges, tuition will rise by 4.5 percent, to $43,185 from $41,325.

Student activities fees for all undergraduates will increase by 5.6 percent, to $228, as recommended by the Student Assembly. The University also announced a four percent increase in average fees for housing and dining, from $13,104 to $13,628.

The undergraduate tuition hike will increase Cornell’s operating budget by 1.4 percent, according to Elmira Mangum, vice president for planning and budget.

“We are trying to maintain quality and a competitive position,” Mangum said. “Part of our operating philosophy was that we would not take on additional costs without additional revenue to provide services and enrich programs to meet the needs of students.”

Tuition hikes continue to outpace the rate of inflation, which is currently 3.4 percent. The inflation rate has steadily increased from 1.5 percent in 2010 and three percent in 2011.

“The cost of utilities, information technology, security, research and salaries of faculty and staff have risen with the inflation rate,” Mangum said.

However, she said that it is normal for tuition to increase at a higher rate than inflation.

“Higher education tuition is usually two to three percent above inflation because the economy that is associated with a university is heavily focused on salaries, benefits and people costs,” Magnum said. “The consumer price index is a much broader index; on a college campus the market set is a little smaller.”

While the rate of inflation has caused the cost of a Cornell education to increase, the University’s commitment to financial aid has not faltered, Mangum said. Half of this year’s tuition increase will go toward providing more students with financial aid.

Tom Keane, director of financial aid for scholarships and policy analysis, said that the University has not only seen a surge in the number of students applying for financial aid but also a significant increase in the number receiving aid.

“It’s in the neighborhood of 2,900 more students receiving aid now than was the case two and half years ago,” Keane said.

Keane maintained that while tuition for all undergraduates will increase for the 2012-2013 academic year, the tuition hike will not jeopardize the education of students who receive financial aid.

“The students who are receiving aid are in a sense protected from the tuition increases,” Keane said. “While we expect the income of [students’] families to go up each year, most of that tuition increase will go back into financial aid programs … We’re all about providing an opportunity to students who couldn’t otherwise afford to come to Cornell.”

Still, Keane noted that less aid is being given to in-state students in the contract colleges due to “decreased support from New York State.”

“The whole University has seen a real decrease — the contract colleges have seen their budgets either shrink or grow less rapidly that they have in the past,” he said.

Cornell spent an all-time record for the University of $224.5 million on undergraduate financial aid in 2011 — a 9.5 percent increase from 2010. Roughly 7,000 students  — about half of all undergraduates — currently benefit from financial aid, Mangum said.

The trustees also approved tuition for the graduate and professional schools on the Ithaca campus for the upcoming academic year.

While tuition in most of the professional schools — the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Johnson Graduate School of Management, and the Cornell Law School — is also set to rise, tuition will remain at $29,500 for graduate students in the endowed colleges and $20,800 for graduate students in the statutory colleges for the third year in a row.

“Most graduate Ph.D students’ university expenses are paid for by the University, the government or researchers,” Mangum said.

Fees for graduate and professional students will rise 6.6 percent, to $81, as recommended by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.

Original Author: Liz Camuti

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