Tuition raised, but financial aid remains top priority

The Stanford University Board of Trustees has approved a 3.5 percent increase in total undergraduate charges—tuition, room and board—for the 2009-10 academic year.

Stanford, which will raise total undergraduate fees to $48,843 next year, remains committed to its new financial aid program that guarantees free tuition to families making less than $100,000, despite impending budget shortfalls linked to a steep decline in its endowment.

Undergraduate tuition will increase next year to $37,380, compared with $36,030 this year; room and board fees will rise to $11,463, compared with $11,182 this year.

"The tuition increase will not affect any undergraduate receiving financial aid," Provost John Etchemendy said Tuesday following the Board of Trustees meeting.

"If a student is receiving financial aid under our program, then the size of their grant will increase to cover any rise in tuition, assuming their financial circumstances are unchanged," said Etchemendy, the university's chief academic and chief budgetary officer. "In addition, as students and their families are affected adversely by the economy and have more trouble meeting their share of tuition, the financial aid office recalculates their aid package and they get greater assistance."

Under a financial aid program established in 2008, families making less than $60,000 a year are not expected to pay tuition or contribute to the costs of room and board and other expenses. The program also eliminated the need for student loans. Students are expected to contribute their earnings from work during the summer and the academic year.

While tuition is one of three major sources of revenue for Stanford, along with investment income and sponsored research funding, Etchemendy said the university proposed only modest increases in tuition and fees out of fairness to its students and their families.

"We know they are enduring difficult times as well," he said.

Next year's increase in undergraduate tuition represents a 3.75 increase over current levels; the rise in undergraduate room and board fees represents a 2.5 percent rise.

"What I would like to emphasize is the trustees did this very thoughtfully, thinking about the realities of the economy and the impact this was having on the Stanford community and our families," Leslie Hume, chair of the Board of Trustees, said in an interview Tuesday.

Hume said Stanford had to provide more financial aid to families this year than it had earlier anticipated, as the national and global economic downturn took its toll on families.

The university, which had planned to spend $97 million this year on financial aid, is now expected to spend about $102 million, said Tim Warner, vice provost for budget and auxiliaries management.

Stanford is one of the few private universities with an undergraduate "need-blind" admission policy for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, which guarantees that students will be accepted regardless of their ability to pay—and will be offered the financial help they need to attend Stanford.

In the 2007-08 academic year, Stanford provided $75 million in need-based scholarships from university sources. Next year, the university anticipates spending about $110 million in need-based scholarships, a 47 percent rise over 2007-08.

Graduate student tuition also rises

Trustees also raised 2009-10 tuition by 3.75 percent for general graduate students, as well as graduate students in engineering, law and medicine.

Tuition for general graduate students will increase to $37,380 next year, compared with $36,030 this year; tuition for engineering graduate students will rise to $39,840, compared with $38,400 this year. Law School tuition will increase to $42,420 next year, compared with $40,880 this year; Medical School tuition will rise to $45,018, compared with $43,389 this year.

Tuition for first-year students at the Graduate School of Business will increase 4.9 percent to $51,321 in 2009-10, compared with $48,921 this year. Tuition for second-year students will remain at $48,921, the same amount they paid during their first year, under a tuition structure in which students pay the same tuition in each of their two years at the Business School.

For the third consecutive year, terminal graduate registration will remain at $11,040 for the whole year—four quarters—for graduate students who have completed their course work and are working on their dissertations.

The tuition rate for graduate students taking 8 to 10 units will rise 3.75 percent to $24,300 next year, compared with $23,430 this year.