For the third year in a row, the cost of attending Yale will increase by roughly 4 percent.
During its February meeting, the Yale Corporation approved an increase in the Yale College term bill for the 2015–16 academic year. With this rise, students not on financial aid will pay $62,200 per year compared to the $59,800 undergraduate bill for the 2014–15 academic year. Tuition will rise from $45,800 to $47,600, and the cost of room and board will rise from $14,000 to $14,600.
“The increases in the term bill reflect increases in the costs of the underlying expenses that the term bill pays for,” University President Peter Salovey said. “Our goal is to make Yale accessible to anyone who can get in, and so we work very hard to keep increases in the term bill as modest as we can.”
Because financial aid packages are automatically adjusted to compensate for changes in the term bill, Yale College students on financial aid will not pay any more than they currently do, YaleNews reported. Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi could not be reached for comment.
Sixty-four percent of undergraduates receive some financial assistance during their time at Yale, with the average need-based scholarship for 2013–14 at $41,250. As part of their financial aid packages, students on financial aid must contribute between $4,475 and $6,400 per year from summer earnings and part-time jobs on campus held during the term.
Salovey said the 4 percent increase is a rough approximation based off of the Higher Education Price Index, which tracks the main cost drivers in higher education.
These expenses include costs of maintaining buildings, utilities for those spaces and labor costs, among others, Salovey said, adding that it is normal to see inflation in such commodities each year. The HEPI is compiled by the Commonfund Institute, which provides long-term investors with investment information and professional development programs.
According to the Commonfund Institute’s website, forecasts for the 2015 HEPI have not been posted because of severe winter weather. However, the HEPI for the 2014 fiscal year stood at 3 percent. These numbers were also reflected in two separate press releases from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, which demonstrated that tuition at private colleges grew by 3.9 percent for 2012–13 and 3.6 percent for 2013–14.
Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors.com, said steadily increasing tuition for universities like Yale is not an immediate concern given their large applicant pools and extremely selective acceptance rates. However, Kantrowitz said one of Yale’s reasonable concerns would be about eventually pricing themselves out of the student populations they are trying to attract.
“Right now, $60,000 a year is ridiculously high and they’re giving out a lot of financial aid, but there’s still enough demand from wealthy individuals,” Kantrowitz said. “If a school wants to have a diverse student population, raising tuition again and again is going to cause problems with that.”
Kantrowitz said there are ways colleges and universities can make tuition rates rise slower than inflation rates, but only at the cost of increasing enrollment or cutting back the number of faculty positions, for example.
Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the American Association of University Professors and professor of economics at Wright State University, said these kinds of tuition increases are only sustainable “as long as the top one percent keep having kids,” but that a lack of socioeconomic diversity among the study body would ultimately change the character of an institution.
“American higher education has always been somewhat of a kind of stratified system with the really private elites at the top, followed by several public elite institutions like Michigan and Berkeley,” Fichtenbaum said. “I think the gutting of public spending for higher education has meant that the really top-notch public institutions, who to some degree were able to compete for faculty and to some degree for students, increasingly will not be able to do that.”
Richard Vedder, professor of economics at Ohio University, said Yale may face less price resistance in the long term because of its esteemed reputation.
Four students interviewed said that while they understood why the rise could be necessary, they still think there are negative impacts.
Karl Notturno ’17 said that while he did not doubt the 4 percent increase was justified to keep up with inflation, the positive performance of Yale’s endowment suggests charging students more may not be the best way to deal with the rising costs of higher education.
Matthew Stock ’18 said that while he understood the tuition increase was necessary in order to keep Yale running, he is wary of Yale losing its appearance as a financially accessible school.
“I’d say that college tuition is expensive enough as it is, and it seems to go against Yale’s philosophy of accessibility and affordability that they are so intent on raising tuition,” Stock said.
The estimated financial aid budget for Yale College is $119 million.
This article has been updated to reflect the version published in print on March 2, 2015.
Correction, March 2: A previous version of this article mistakenly quoted Mark Kantrowitz as saying that universities could make tuition rise slower than inflation by decreasing enrollments. In fact, he said that universities would need to increase enrollments.