Undergraduate tuition, housing and meal plan costs for the school year starting in the fall of 2010 will be higher than they were this year, according to AU’s 2010-2011 budget report.
Tuition costs for a full-time undergraduate student are $17,228 for the 2009-2010 academic year, but that price will increase by five percent to $18,090 for the 2010-2011 academic year. The price of on-campus housing will increase by 4.5 percent.
The price of tuition usually changes every year to reflect AU’s growing budget costs and upward nationwide trends in tuition levels. Most private universities in the United States raised their undergraduate tuition for the 2009-2010 school year by 3 to 6 percent, according to a College Board report.
Tuition is calculated every two years as part of AU’s budget and is approved by the Board of Trustees, according to Executive Director of Budget and Payroll Nana An.
The calculation takes many factors into consideration, including the Private University Index reported by College Board, which measures inflation and its effect on college tuition rates across the nation. AU also considers student needs, financial aid and institutional priorities, she said.
When determining the cost of tuition, AU increases rates “very modestly,” An said. AU’s tuition and mandatory fees are still “well below the mid-point of our market competitors,” despite the recent rise in price, she said.
“It’s not just a cost increase from the student perspective. By the time you graduate, your degree will be worth more than when you enrolled,” An said.
The 5 percent hike for undergraduates amounts to about $1,700 per year in additional tuition costs, according to AU’s 2010-2011 Budget Report.
Tuition rates for summer classes have increased as well, from $973 last year to $1,022 per credit hour this year for an undergraduate student, according to the budget report. The price of online summer courses has not recently changed and will still be $800 next year.
Tuition for graduate students pursuing an MBA will only increase by 3 percent.
Increasing Costs of Room and Board
Housing and meal plan rates will also increase next year. On-campus housing for all students — singles, doubles and triples on the main campus, including Nebraska and Centennial Hall — will cost 4.5 percent more, moving the price of a double to $4,315 per semester, according to AU’s 2010-2011 Budget Report. A double occupancy room on main campus currently costs about $4,129 per semester.
Meal plans will increase in price by 4 percent. For a student currently on the 150 Block Plan, which costs $2,150 per semester, the same plan will cost about $90 more.
“The cost of maintaining residence hall facilities increases annually due to inflation,” said Executive Director of Housing and Dining Chris Moody.
Costs for housing and meal plans are determined similarly to tuition and are set every two years, according to Moody.
For the 2008-2009 academic year, AU raised residence hall room rates by a greater percentage than the George Washington University and Georgetown University, but AU still consistently has lower housing costs than the two local universities.
How tuition money is used
Tuition, room and board make up 95 percent of American University’s revenue. Out of AU’s total revenue, which is about $450 million, almost 50 percent pays for salaries and compensation for faculty and staff. The rest goes to financial aid, new technology and services on campus, according to AU’s Budget Report.
GWU spends 53 percent of its budget on salaries, according to their 2010 Operating and Capital Budget. Georgetown University, which depends on gifts and endowments for half its revenue, also spends about 50 percent of its budget on salaries, as listed in its 2009-2012 Financial Plan.
The rest of AU’s revenue comes from investments, gifts and public radio station WAMU’s earnings. Unlike most universities, AU does not depend on gifts to survive financially.
Although tuition may increase yearly at universities across the nation, students rarely pay the full sticker price.
A recent study from the National Association of College and University Business Officers found that, on average, undergraduate students are paying 58 percent of full tuition costs at private universities nationwide.
At AU, the average financial aid package accounts for 29 percent of the full costs, according to An. Although that package varies from student to student, the average AU undergraduate pays 71 percent of the full cost of tuition, she said.