Saturday, 2:15 PM
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
Harvard University announced today that it will raise tuition 3.5 percent for the next academic year but increase its need-based financial aid budget to $125 million, a 21 percent jump.
The cost of tuition, room and board, and student fees at Harvard will now cost $47,215 a year.
Harvard officials said the tuition increase ranked among the smallest in the past decade; the increase for the 2006-2007 academic year was 4.7 percent, for example. The officials also said need-based grants would reduce the average cost for students on financial aid to an estimated $10,500.
About half of Harvard undergraduates receive need-based assistance, which has increased by 143 percent over the past decade.
"Over the last few years, Harvard College has removed many of the financial barriers that might have prohibited many students from even considering applying," Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said in a statement. "We want to encourage talented students from all economic backgrounds to pursue a Harvard education without incurring huge financial burdens."
In December, Harvard announced a sweeping financial aid policy that sharply reduced the amount families with incomes below $180,000 are expected to pay. Families with incomes below $60,000 will not be asked to contribute.
Many other elite colleges and universities have followed suit.
In January, Yale University said it would cut its average cost for students with financial need by more than half and eliminate tuition for families earning less than $60,000 per year. Dartmouth eliminated tuition for families who earn less than $75,000.
Last month, Stanford University announced it would waive tuition for students whose families earn less than $100,000 a year and eliminate room and board fees for students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year.
Earlier this month, MIT waived tuition and eliminated loans for students whose families earn less than $75,000 a year.
Congress has pressed the nation's wealthiest colleges the past few months to spend more of their surging endowments to offset rising tuition increases, and have called for greater transparency in how the endowments are spent. Colleges, who sharply oppose the idea of mandated endowment payout rates, say they have increased financial aid more than tuition.
More than 70 colleges now boast endowments of more than $1 billion. At approximately $34 billion, Harvard's endowment is by far the largest.
Average tuition for the current academic year at public four-year institutions rose 6.6 percent from last year, while average total charges rose 5.9 percent, according to the College Board. At four-year private institutions, average total charges rose 5.9 percent.
The average full-time student attending a private college receives about $9,300 in grants and tax benefits, which reduces the average tuition and fees to a net price of about $14,400, according to the College Board.
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