MIT announced Friday a 4.5 per-cent increase in tuition--the lowest in 25 years--for the 1995-96 academic year.
This will raise tuition to $21,000, a $900 increase from $20,100 this year. Four out of seven students at MIT get financial aid based on need, and the average financial aid package covers 98 percent of the cost of tuition
The increase in room and board will average 2.9 percent, putting the overall cost for tuition, room and board at $27,150. This is an increase of 4.1 percent, or $1,075, over this year's figure of $26,075.
The increases, approved by the Corporation executive committee, were announced by President Charles M. Vest. He noted that tuition historically covers about half the cost of a student's education, with the remainder met by earnings from endowment and by unrestricted gifts and grants.
Dr. Vest said it was important that tuition at MIT, while reflecting the realities of the economy, "should increase only moderately." He said that tuition was one of three primary sources of revenue, the others being federal and industrial research funds and private support, including gifts and investment income.
By slowing tuition's rate of growth and making financial aid available, MIT will remain accessible to bright students regardless of family income, he said. This year, about 57 percent of MIT's 4,472 undergraduates receive financial aid through a combination of scholarships, loans and term-time jobs. The average aid for a needy student this year is $19,750 (98 percent of tuition). Scholarship grants from MIT are $27.7 million of a total of $34.5 million in grants from all sources. Loans and term-time work account for an additional $7.8 million.
The university's nominal self-help level-the amount students are expected to provide from loans and term-time work before receiving scholarship assistance-will be raised $500 to $8,150, a 6.5 percent increase. MIT reduces the self-help requirements for students from families of very low income by as much as $3,500.
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 29 percent of students and/or their parents pay the full amount.
In order to cope with a gap between income and expenses, MIT has undertaken a four-year cost-cutting plan that includes a $40 million cut in operating costs and a work force reduction of about 400.
Dr. Vest, in an interview, commented, "Keeping our education both excellent and affordable is the primary driving force of the current reengineering of the Institute."
The few major universities that have reported their new costs of education seem to have had larger increases than MIT, he said. "The vast majority of MIT students major in engineering or science; these fields of study are very expensive in comparison to most others. This is because of salary levels, laboratories, and infrastructure, including computing facilities. Frankly, it is amazing that we can keep our tuition at a level comparable to most other world-class universities."
Commenting on Congressional moves to cut scholarship, Dr. Vest said, "Nationally, the continued retreat from providing financial aid is a sad statement of our values.
"Failure to invest in the nation's youth and future is a mistake of the first order. At MIT, the federal government just a decade ago funded nearly half of our student scholarships; they now fund about 10 percent. If the government accelerates the decline of grants and makes loans increasingly expensive, it will produce strong pressures to increase tuition to cover our costs. We should all work to reverse this trend," he said.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 8, 1995.