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01/29/92

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Stanford officials predict large tuition increase

STANFORD -- The choice is this, according to Provost James N. Rosse: Increase tuition or dramatically cut academic programs.

In February, Rosse will tell the Board of Trustees that he reluctantly favors a substantial undergraduate tuition increase for 1992- 93. He declined to reveal specific figures until proposals are ready for the board meeting.

Offsetting high tuition to some extent will be a below- inflation increase in room and board fees. By cutting costs in the housing and food services auxiliary enterprise, more student dollars can be shifted to support academics through tuition, officials said.

Stanford's undergraduate tuition this year is $15,102, while room and board costs $6,106. Inflation currently is running at about 3.5 percent.

"If we don't increase income from tuition, we're going to have to take more substantial program cuts," Rosse said.

After announcing it would do so, Stanford for the last two years has held tuition increases to 1 percent above inflation.

"Having taken the leadership position," Rosse said, "we found there are no followers. Indeed, as other school's tuitions have risen at higher rates, Stanford's cost position has fallen close to the bottom of COFHE schools."

(COFHE, which is the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, is an association of 32 highly selective private colleges and universities. For 1991-92, Stanford ranked 28th among them in tuition, third in room and board, and 26th overall in total student charges.)

With that higher tuition revenue, those schools continued building programs, Rosse said.

"We simply can't sit back and let them walk away from us in terms of programs," he said. "We've got to generate programs, and to generate programs we've got to have the income."

Rosse said it hurt him deeply to make the tuition recommendation.

"I really believe strongly that the limits we put on tuition were the right things to do, but the environment in which we operate has changed pretty dramatically," he said.

Stanford's fees have dropped dramatically in relation to other schools during the past decade.

A 1981-82 survey of the subset of the 16 highly selective COFHE research universities showed Stanford ranked fifth in tuition, eighth in room and board, and sixth in total charges. Ten years later, Stanford is 14th in tuition (and just $1 above the 15th-place school, Duke), first in room and board (reflecting debt payment for new dormitories), and 14th in total charges.

In a larger survey of 105 private colleges and universities by Cambridge Associates for 1991-92, Stanford ranks 58th in tuition, 10th in room and board, and 36th in total charges.

University officials previously announced plans to cut financial aid by $2.5 million, mainly by tightening up aid guidelines. Now, a portion of the tuition increase will be used to fill back up the financial aid pot.

"We'll probably be increasing financial aid more than we reduce it," Rosse said. Those who qualify for financial aid will get higher awards, to help offset the tuition increase.

Funds from the tuition increase also will be used to reduce the financial aid self-help component. For the past several years, the university has been reducing the percentage of school-year job earnings and loans required of students.

The $2.5 million saving will come from tightening up aid guidelines, including one dealing with non-custodial parents. Unlike the Ivy League schools, Stanford in the past has not required non-custodial parents to contribute to their children's educational costs. That will change in September, but only for new students. Exceptions will be considered.

The Financial Aids Office administrative budget is not being cut, Rosse said, because more students are seeking help and the department is planning to manage financial aid rules more closely.

As part of the budget discussions, university officials considered early on whether to abandon their long-standing policy commitment to "need-blind" admissions. The idea was soundly rejected.

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