Tuition rate to rise slightly

Tuition is expected to rise modestly next year, pending approval by the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

As the Corporation prepares to meet this weekend, administrators are looking carefully at the cost of attending Yale in a time when both the University and its students are struggling economically. Although tuition will undoubtedly rise as it has in years past, Yale officials have not yet decided whether the increase should be pegged close to the rate of inflation, as they decided last year, or if it should climb higher. Either way, though, Yale will likely continue to be the cheapest school in the Ivy League.

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It was not always this way.

When Levin took office in 1993, the cost for an undergraduate to attend was $25,110, among the highest in the Ivy League at the time. Over the 15 years of Levin’s presidency, though, the rate of increase at Yale has consistently lagged behind its peers. Tuition, room and board in Yale College this year added up to $46,000.

“I felt that, to the extent we’re able to depend on our endowment, we wanted to be on the conservative side with respect to tuition increases,” Levin said in a telephone interview. The question now is what will happen to Yale’s tuition when the school cannot depend as much on its endowment, which is expected to fall 25 percent this fiscal year. University officials said they will likely announce next year’s tuition before spring break.

Just last year, Yale made a major announcement about the increase of its tuition rate. As part of last January’s expansion of financial aid, Yale said it would only increase the cost of attendance by the expected level of consumer price inflation, which was 2.2 percent. That commitment, though, was only for the 2008-’09 year.

Other schools have been more aggressive in hiking fees for the coming academic year. With costs rising and income falling, some schools are facing budget gaps even larger than Yale’s $100 million deficit. Cornell University and Dartmouth College recently announced tuition hikes of 4 and 4.8 percent, respectively.

“You can really think of it in two ways,” Levin said. “Yes, in a downturn we maybe need the revenue more. But we’re also an institution that depends upon public trust and confidence.”

Administrators also said they understand that an increase in tuition does not necessarily lead to a huge increase in revenue. Tuition only accounted for 15 percent of Yale’s revenue in the current year’s budget, compared to 44 percent from endowment income.

The administration hopes to close the $100 million gap in Yale’s operating budget in ways that do not create hardships for students’ families, Provost Peter Salovey said.

“Even though any tuition increase would be accompanied by a parallel increase in financial aid, I don’t believe anyone in the administration views larger than usual tuition increases as the way to address our budget challenges,” Salovey said in an e-mail.

The difference between a 2 percent increase (close to the rate of inflation) and a 4 percent hike (closer to other schools’ increases) would amount to about another $1,000 for families and about another $2.5 million for Yale, which is lower than it otherwise might be because 42 percent of the student body receives financial aid.

“It would be cruel, criminal and very, very unfortunate were these wealthy schools to raise money on low-income or moderate-income students,” said Gordon Winston, a professor at Williams College who specializes in the economics of higher education. “But none of them are doing that, because when they raise the quote-unquote tuition, they’re not raising the tuition. They’re raising the sticker price, the maximum anybody pays.”

Winston added that tuition increases tend to be fairly similar among top-tier schools, because no college wants to be seen as much more expensive than its peers. It is worth noting, then, that Princeton University announced last month that the price of tuition, room and board would increase 2.9 percent next year.


  • Anonymous

    As a Yale parent who will have three children next year in college and graduate schools, no financial aid for any of them, this is not welcome news. I am sure that I am not the only one in this situation.

  • almost done

    Is Yale going to expand it Financial Aid package to the middle class families?. We receive no financial aid from Yale, no pay raises from employer for past 5 years, and taxes are raising rapidly. It is a huge family sacrifice to attend Yale.. HELP US! Have empathy for families who actually pay to attend Yale.

  • Anonymous

    I've never understood why tuition is the same for the fall and spring semesters. There are 102 days in the fall semester and 105 days in the spring; shouldn't tuition be prorated commensurately?

  • @#1

    Try applying for financial aid. Yale has a very generous financial aid program. I'm actually inclined to think that if you're not getting any, you probably don't really need it. I come from an upper-middle class family, I'm an only child, and we barely pay Yale anything.

  • Observer

    I don't believe Yale is "the cheapest school in the Ivy League" as the article asserts - whether or not financial aid is taken into account - but its not the most expensive, either.


  • student '12

    Barbara, obviously any increase may seem bad in this climate but I disagree that "this is not welcome news." The tuition is only increasing by the CPI (i.e. inflation rate), and I think that is very good news indeed. Too many schools are increasing tuition at rates far higher than inflation… maybe Yale has finally found the reasonable solution and decided to peg tuition to inflation.

  • Lana

    This is outrageous! It is the middle class working parents like us that are being punished. The lazy ones accepting scholarship monies will be fine. We could apply for aid to but prefer to set an example of for our children by working to hard pay our own way .They should have frozen the tuition this year!

  • Anonymous

    That US News Ranking compares:
    "1. Ratio of quality to price: A school's overall score in the America's Best Colleges 2009 edition of the rankings was divided by the 2007-2008 academic year net cost to a student receiving the average need-based scholarship or grant. The higher the ratio of a school's America's Best Colleges 2009 edition rank to the discounted total cost less the average 2007-2008 academic year need-based scholarship or grant, the better the value. Total cost equals the sum of 2007-2008 academic year tuition, room and board, fees, books, and other expenses, including transportation."

    So, Yale's only a worse value if you believe that Harvard is a better education. Which is obviously not true…

  • @@#1

    Then there's something else in the works there. Either that's inherited money or you have some sneakily-documented assets, because to be "upper-middle class" and on financial aid, much less "barely paying anything," is not very feasible. Perhaps you need to redefine what upper-middle means.

  • alum the bum

    Let's see, when my 2-year-old daughter is ready for Yale in 16 years, tuition/room/board will be about $75,000 a year, if we're lucky. How in the world is anyone who makes a decent but not outrageous income supposed to afford this? It almost pays to be poor! My income will certainly place me comfortably in the upper-middle class. This means Yale will give me no financial aid for my child. Does anyone else here think that attending college will begin to lose its importance as more and more hardworking middle-class families can not afford to send their child there?

  • Anonymous

    alum the bum, the whole idea of the modern Yale financial aid policy is that no student should reject Yale because of cost… trust me, you will only end up paying your hypothetical $75k if you can afford it (and if your daughter can get in)

  • Observer to #8:

    You miss the point made by the USNews chart.

    Apart from the question of "value" - combining cost and quality information - the chart helps to distinguish between the increasingly irrelevant "sticker price" and the real price paid by typical students.

    The chart shows that while Yale ranks 3rd in the Ivy League in terms of the net cost for those receiving financial aid, it is only tied for 5th (with Brown) with respect to the percentage of students actually receiving such aid.

    When Fall 2009 figures become available for all schools, it is possible, of course, that Yale's relative standing in these categories may improve.

  • Anonymous

    @Alum the bum - remember that inflation cuts both ways. Increases to your income will also be loosely tied to it. It will be no harder to afford $75,000 later than it is to afford $46,000 now if tuition increases do indeed parallel inflation.

    @#1 - A family that makes $125,000 a year would indeed pay very little, especially if they have 2 kids in college. I'd call that upper-middle class. Perhaps you live in New York or San Francisco - somewhere where money just can't take you very far?

    Lana - I would normally refrain from insulting anyone on this message board, but your post was so offensive that I won't restrain myself. Students on aid are not lazy - neither are their families. If you are really "middle class" as you claim to be, you should make less than $100,000 and you're eligible for a full ride. I find it simply impossible to believe that you're even able to cover $52,000 in tuition, room and board every year on that kind of income - I'm calling you a liar. I'll give anyone 10:1 odds that you simply aren't eligible for aid because you make too much money or have too many assets. If you are eligible and have indeed declined the aid, then my heart goes out to your tragic family.