The total Yale College term bill for the 2005-06 academic year will rise 5.5 percent to $41,000, University officials said Monday.

This year’s increase in the term bill, the total cost of tuition and room and board, is the highest since 1993. Yale Provost Andrew Hamilton said the increase was necessary to balance the rising costs of a Yale College education — including renovation and construction costs — and increases in the amount of money dedicated to undergraduate financial aid.

The total cost of a year at Yale College increased 5 percent last year to $38,850 and 4.6 percent to $37,000 in 2003-04. For the coming year, the cost of tuition will increase to $31,460 from $29,820, and the charge for room and board will be $9,540, up from $9,030.

Although the term bill increase is relatively high by Yale standards, Hamilton said the University remains one of the most affordable schools among other comparable universities.

“Tuition at Yale is currently the lowest of our peer institutions,” Hamilton said. “While we do not know what all of these institutions will be doing next year, we anticipate that the changes just announced will push us no more than one place higher in the rankings.”

Yale’s term bill for the coming year will be the second least expensive among the seven Ivy League universities that have announced their 2005-06 costs. Only Princeton remains lower, with a term bill of $40,213 for the coming academic year following a 5 percent increase. Columbia University has not yet reported its tuition for next year.

According to the 2004 Yale Endowment Report, net tuition, room and board was the fourth largest source of funding for the University’s operating budget during the 2003-04 fiscal year, providing $216 million, or 13 percent of the total.

Vice President for Finance and Administration John Pepper said this year’s term bill increase belies Yale’s “tuition restraint,” though pressure to eliminate the University’s $15 million budget deficit was also a factor.

“Every cost is a factor,” Pepper said. “We need to be very conscious of what we’re doing and be efficient where we can to reduce the pressure on our budget, on tuition.”

Pepper said with Yale’s recent financial aid reforms — including the elimination of financial contributions from parents earning under $45,000 per year — the undergraduate financial aid budget is expected to total more than $54 million during the coming fiscal year.

“The other thing that has to be factored in here is student aid, and students in need, and we’re going to be addressing that situation,” he said, adding that the expense was more than worthwhile.

Still, rising term bill costs at elite universities like Yale — where tuition inflation outpaces national inflation — could eventually force many students into debt, said William Strauss, the co-author of the youth-trend analysis Millennials Rising.

“When schools of that kind have such inflation, it provides an incentive for other colleges and universities around the country to raise their tuition,” said Strauss, who advocates freezing tuition costs to alleviate student debt.

But Pepper said Yale officials keep student debt relief in mind.

“We’re conscious of what tuition is doing versus inflation,” Pepper said. “We just finished a major analysis of the financial donation policies, and we’ll continue to look at that.”