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Tuition increase is lowest in 23 years

MIT announced Friday a 5.6 percent increase in tuition-the lowest in 23 years-for the 1993-94 academic year. This will raise tuition to $19,000, a $1,000 increase from $18,000 this year.

In addition, there will be an average increase of 4.4 percent for housing and 4 percent for dining. Overall, tuition, room and board will rise $1,235 from $23,565 this year to $24,800 in 1993-94, an increase of 5.2 percent, the second lowest in 23 years.

The increases, approved by the MIT trustees at their March 5 meeting, were announced by President Charles M. Vest, who noted that tuition historically covers about half the cost of a student's education, estimated to be $38,000 at MIT next year. The difference between tuition and the cost of education is met by earnings from endowment and by unrestricted gifts and grants.

Dr. Vest stressed that MIT will continue to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all undergraduates. This year about 59 percent of MIT's 4,520 undergraduates receive financial aid through a combination of scholarships, loans and term-time jobs. The average aid for a needy student this year-to help pay the $23,565 cost of tuition, room and board-was $17,700 (just $300 beneath the cost of tuition), for a total of $45.7 million. Of that sum, scholarship grants from MIT were $26 million, of a total $ 31.1 million in grants. Loans accounted for $11.3 million and term-time work for $3.3 million.

Because students from wealthier families who fail to qualify for financial aid still receive scholarships from outside the financial aid system, it is estimated that only about 20 percent of students and/or their parents pay the full amount.

In Dr. Vest's annual report to the community earlier this year, which stressed the financial challenges faced by MIT and universities throughout the nation, he noted that tuition was one of three primary sources of revenue, the others being private support, including gifts and investment income, and federal and industrial support of research.

Tuition rates, he said, "must reflect the realities of the nation's economy, the corresponding need to supply financial aid, and our desire to remain accessible to bright students regardless of their family's income."

While tuition continues to grow somewhat, he said, MIT has begun to slow its rate of growth. This year, a major budget review was undertaken seeking to cut expenses and lower the Institute's deficit.

He added: "Tuition across the country, especially that of private universities, has rather consistently followed the ups and downs of variations in the consumer price index (CPI), but for 15 years the annual increases have been greater than the CPI. This is because the cost of the majority of goods and services needed by universities-such as scholarships and fellowships, books and journals and faculty salaries-tends to rise more quickly than the CPI.

"Hence, while general inflation has been a primary driver of tuition, the specific costs borne by tuition have grown even more rapidly."

The university's nominal self-help level-the amount students are expected to provide from loans and term-time work before receiving scholarship assistance-was raised $500 to $7,100, a 7.6 percent increase. MIT reduces the self-help requirements for students from families of very low income by as much as $3,500.

For Tuesday's issue of The Tech, a reporter asked Dr. Vest "how or why decided on this moderate increase in spite of the current need for budget cuts?"

He responded: "We have set restrained growth of tuition as a fundamental principle in planning MIT's future budgets. We are also striving to maintain an appropriate balance between financial aid and the price charged for an MIT education. These are major challenge as we work to keep the Institute affordable. These two actions are consistent with our stand against the Justice Department's anti-trust suit, and are major driving forces in the development of an imbalance in our operating budget."

A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 25).

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