How increasing tuition compares to financial aid

    Though an increase in tuition was not the best email to wake up to, there is some good news.

    The email sent out on March 30 highlights the 3.7 percent increase in tuition for the 2016-2017 academic year, the second lowest increase in over 40 years. Student activity fees, standard room and board rates and athletic fees are all increasing by 3.7 percent as well, but student health fees will remain the same.

    However, the email explains the goal of working to offer better support to students from both low-income and middle-income families.

    Though it doesn’t compare to the $100 perpetual scholarships that were sold in the past, basically a free-tuition certificate for current descendants, there will be about a 5.9 percent increase in financial aid. Additionally, the University announced that starting this upcoming fall, all first-year students will be given aid packages without any loans.

    “It was a priority of ours when we were putting our budget together,” said Vice President of Budget and Planning James Hurley. “With the funds we had available in the budget we made sure we budgeted enough. It was a priority among the president and the board of trustees so we made it happen.”

    It is important to note that the no-loan policy only applies to what is given in a financial aid package. If families choose to use loans to help pay for their end of expected financial contribution, those loans will not be covered by financial aid. However, Hurley explained that Northwestern will continue to follow it’s policy of meeting each admitted student’s demonstrated need and that the University is committed to trying to help people have an “equal playing field to participate in whatever the University is offering."

    “We are working on really trying to assure, at least from an economic perspective, that everyone is having the same experience,” he said. “A loan is money people borrow on their own and through the government. You can emerge borrowing a lot of money and that’s a tough thing, especially at a place like this that is already kind of expensive.”

    The email outlines what the additional tuition revenue will be used for. Although the inflation rate in the U.S. will only increase by about 1.8% in 2017 according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Alan Cubbage, Vice President of University Relations, explains that University expenses increase at a greater rate than inflation.

    “The main costs for the University are personnel costs, which are increasing at a rate greater than inflation,” he said. “To a great extent that is a function of increased health care costs, which are reflected in the health insurance costs for the University. In addition, other expenses, such as library electronic resources, lab equipment and other materials also are increasing at a rate greater than inflation.”

    Additionally, the Debt Cap Scholarship amount was lowered to $20,000, down from $25,000 during the 2015-2016 academic year. Though the no-loan policy will only apply to incoming freshman, the email explains that “current undergraduate students who already have $20,000 or more in loans will have that debt capped starting next fall, and receive scholarship instead of having to borrow more.”


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