Term bill verges on 50k

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No caption. Photo by Nora Caplan-Bricker.

The cost of attending Yale College will be just short of $50,000 next year.

Tuition, room and board for Yale undergraduates will rise 4.8 percent, or $2,300, for the next academic year, University officials announced Tuesday, bringing the total cost of attending Yale to $49,800. This increase tops tuition hikes recently announced by the University’s peer institutions, as well as Yale’s own increases in recent years.

“It’s a little larger percentage increase than past years, but we have budget issues,” University President Richard Levin said.

Still, Yale is among the least expensive schools in the Ivy League. Of the Ivies who have announced term bill increases so far, only Yale and Princeton will stay below the $50,000 mark in the 2010-’11 academic year.

Though Yale currently faces a budget shortfall of about $100 million, Levin said the administration is not reaching into students’ wallets to close the gap. While next year’s sticker price will rise, the cost of attending Yale could actually decrease for students whose family situations warrant increased aid.

Even as departments across the University try to slash their budgets, officials have budgeted at least a 10 percent increase in financial aid spending next year, raising the average Yale scholarship to more than $35,000. This increased financial aid spending will effectively cancel out much of the revenue gained from the tuition hike, Levin said.

In the 2009-’10 academic year, students on financial aid paid an average of approximately $15,000 to attend Yale. And even the 45 percent of students who pay the full sticker price are responsible for less than half of the expenses incurred by their Yale education, Levin said; it costs the University roughly $400,000 to put a student through four years at Yale College.

Some students who do not qualify for financial aid said they are worried their families will be strained by the increase, but Levin said he hopes few will be in this position since the financial aid formula put into place January 2008 provides significant assistance to all families with an annual income under $200,000.

Tuition accounted for about 15 percent of Yale’s revenue in the 2008-’09 fiscal year, compared to 44 percent from the endowment, according to the University’s financial report. A 1 percent increase in tuition generates about $1 million in revenue for Yale after accounting for spending on financial aid — pocket change compared to money saved from various budget cuts, such as capping paid leave for employees or reducing Graduate School enrollment by 10 to 15 percent, Levin said.

“Term bill increases make only a small dent in the budget deficit in part because we always increase financial aid by a proportional amount,” Provost Peter Salovey said in an e-mail.

As a result, no parents of students receiving financial aid will have to increase the amount they contribute next year, Levin said. Still, the portion of all financial aid packages that students must contribute through jobs or other means will rise from $2,600 to $3,000 for the 2010-’11 academic year. The self-help increase is in line with past years, when student contributions were bumped up in proportion to the tuition increase, but runs counter to the last two years, when Yale kept self-help increases low and expanded aid to parents as a part of a financial aid overhaul.

About 55 percent of Yale undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.

Levin said Yale’s massive endowment allowed the University to keep costs for students to a minimum in the boom years of the late 1990s and 2000s. After the 2007-’08 academic year, Yale limited the tuition increase to 2.2 percent, the expected rate of inflation that year. Last year, the Yale Corporation approved a 3.3 percent rise.

Ten students interviewed said the increase in costs will hurt their families.

“I guess it means that they’re raising revenue from people who can afford it, but it sucks for people who aren’t on financial aid,” Bryan Kam ’12 said. “It’s incredibly expensive.”

The rate of tuition increase during Levin’s tenure as president has been the slowest of any Ivy League school, Levin said. Yale was the cheapest Ivy until this year, when Princeton University’s term bill undercut Yale’s by $480.

Princeton will again charge less than Yale next year: It announced it will increase expenses by 3.3 percent to $48,580, one of the lowest percentage increases in Princeton’s tuition since 1966.

And Yale’s rate of increase is the greatest among its peer institutions that have announced their tuition hikes so far this year.

Cornell will raise its student tuition and fees 4.4 percent to $52,316, while the cost of attending Stanford will top $50,000 next year for the first time following a 3.5 percent rise. Dartmouth recently announced a cost increase of 4.6 percent, the lowest in five years, though financial aid at the college suffered when officials reinstated a student loan program. Harvard has yet to announce its tuition for the 2010-’11 academic year.

The total cost of attending Yale is divided into tuition — which comes to $38,300, up from $36,500 this year — and room and board, which will cost students $11,500, up $500 from last year.

Jordi Gassó contributed reporting.

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