Tuition Increase is Lowest in 8 Yrs, High Relative to Inflation

Chancellor Philip L. Clay PhD ’75 announced at Wednesday’s faculty meeting that tuition and fees will increase from $36,390 to $37,782 for the 2009-2010 academic year, marking the lowest percentage increase in eight years. But with respect to the inflation rate of 0.09% over the last year, the 3.83% increase in tuition represents a greater financial burden on families as an MIT education is now more expensive relative to family income.

In addition to the 3.83% increase in tuition and fees, which includes the $272 student life fee — up from $250 — there will be slight increases in the costs of room and board. Those will bring the student expense budget, which includes all personal expenses except travel, to $52,000, up 3.79% from the $50,100 estimated for the current academic year.

Last year, MIT announced that families making less than $75,000 each year would not be required to pay tuition. That helped spur an increase in the percentage of admitted students from lower income families who decided to enroll at MIT. However, Clay felt there was room for improvement for students from families making between $100,000 and $200,000.

“We lost ground with students from families making greater than $100,000, but less than $200,000,” said Clay.

Despite tumultuous economic times, MIT will lower the expected contribution of families making just over $75,000. The plan is expected to cost MIT $1.4 million annually, but Clay said, despite budget cuts in other areas, the plan will hold.

“Notwithstanding the economic crisis, we are committed to meeting the financial needs of students,” said Clay. “We will build the budget around this promise.”

He also indicated that efforts to raise funds for tuition assistance will continue, despite estimates that MIT will face a forty percent drop in pledges from donors. The recently launched Institute-wide Planning Task Force, which has been charged with considering cost-cutting measures, will also take into account the Institute’s priorities in deciding what to cut. Director of Student Financial Aid and Employment Daniel Barkowitz added that the funds devoted to financial aid are drawn from specially earmarked endowment funds before being drawn from the General Institute Budget. He also restated that the current economic turmoil will have no effect on admissions and financial aid allocations.

“It was critical to us,” said Barkowitz, “that in this environment we restate the commitment to the triple principles of need-blind admission, need-based financial aid, and full-need financial aid packages.”

There has been a modest increase in the number of current students requesting additional aid due to changes in family circumstances. This semester, there were forty such instances, compared to the usual twenty. Based on experience from past recessions, MIT estimates this slump will require an additional $7-8 million earmarked toward financial assistance. As a result, the financial aid budget for the 2009-2010 academic year will be $81.6 million, 10 percent higher than the current $74 million budget.

MIT also saw more early applicants seeking financial assistance; 90 percent of early applicants sought aid this past year, compared to 83 percent in 2007 and 81 percent in the previous three years. However, MIT said last month that they are committed to helping those families weather the tough economic times.

“We are just as generous as we were last year”, said Dean for Undergraduate Education Daniel Hastings, “and perhaps more generous.”