January 30, 2011

Cornell Tuition Rises Again, Outpacing Rate of Inflation

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Next year, both in-state and out-of-state undergraduates in all Cornell colleges will face a $1,875 tuition hike, according to the new budget approved by the Board of Trustees on Jan. 21. This increase marks a 4.8-percent rise in tuition for the Cornell’s endowed colleges, similar to the 4.5-percent increase  that the colleges saw last academic year.  Tuition hikes for Cornell’s contract colleges continued to exceed those of the endowed colleges, with a 7.9-percent increase scheduled for 2011-2012. Tuition for the 2010-2011 year already marked an 8-percent increase from 2009-2010.The tuition for students at endowed colleges — the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Hotel Administration and College of Engineering — will rise from this year’s $39,450 to $41,325, as will tuition for non-New York State residents at contract colleges. Tuition for in-state students in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, School of Industrial and Labor Relations and College of Human Ecology will increase from $23,310 to $25,185. The University also announced a planned 4-percent increase in housing and dining fees. Student activities fees, however, will remain the same as this year, at $216 for undergraduates and $76 for graduate students. Increases to tuition continued to outpace the U.S. rate of inflation, which was 2.7 percent in 2009 and 1.5 percent in 2010.In a statement released by the University, Vice President for Planning and Budget Elmira Mangum defended the increases, citing rising costs and dwindling state support for Cornell’s contract colleges. “We are making a concerted effort to streamline operations and reduce expenses, with marked success, and will continue to do so to hold down substantial tuition increases in the future,” Mangum stated. Mangum added that University financial aid may be available to help students who are burdened by the tuition increases. “Cornell has a very generous financial aid package to ensure that students who are currently receiving financial aid and students that may move into the need category will receive the help they need to continue their education,” she said.

Despite administrative reassurances, some students expressed discontent with the changes.

“As the families of many Cornellians continue to struggle to make ends meet in this current economic downturn, I am saddened by the Board of Trustees’ willingness to approve such a plan,” said Ray Mensah ’11, executive vice president of the Student Assembly. Mensah criticized the University for placing an ever-increasing financial burden on students by raising tuition while the country experiences an economic downturn.“When I broke the news of the tuition increase to students in the ILR School whose parents pay full tuition, they expressed fear of being forced to transfer to a less expensive university,” he said.Mensah said he was hopeful that the University will find other ways to balance the budget. “If other things can be done without continuing with a trend of yearly tuition increases above the rate of inflation, then Cornell must look more closely at those options,” Mensah stated. Other Cornellians were more accepting of the changes and saw them as necessary consequences of hard economic times.  S.A. Rep. Ulysses Smith ’13, who represents the College of Art, Architecture and Planning in the Student Assembly, noted that Cornell is not the only American university that has been forced to increases costs. “Tuition increases are happening all over the nation for various reasons, so we cannot look at this as another attempt by Cornell to nickel and dime us,” said Smith, who added that if the University had not raised tuition, it might have turned to other money-saving methods that students would have found even less pleasant.  “We might complain about [higher tuition], but I think it would be worse if we started getting more announcements about departments being cut,” he said. “I’ll take the tuition increase and keep reminding myself that I have to work that much harder to ensure that I can pay my bills.”

Original Author: Eliza LaJoie