Northwestern’s tuition increase and the College Cost Crisis

Northwestern tuition including room and board increased 3.7% for the 2016-2017 academic year, bringing the total bill to $50,424. Northwestern News reports that this increase is in line with that of other peer research universities, which averaged a 3.9% increase.

The College Cost Crisis, as it is being called, is the burden borne by millennials as national student debt loans reach a staggering $1.2 trillion, an increase of around 70% since 2011. A contributing factor to this is almost certainly the 11% average increase in tuition for private four-year colleges.

Northwestern has the eighth largest endowment in the country, which returned 2.5% as the fiscal year ended August 31, 2015, growing to a total of $10.8 billion.

Northwestern’s president Morton Schapiro announced that the university would work to eliminate loans for incoming first-year students. The key priorities include enabling “low and middle-income families and first-generation college students to attend Northwestern,” Schapiro said. The Debt Cap Scholarship will be awarded to all incoming freshman and returning undergraduate students with loans greater than $20,000.

The university will also increase funding for research opportunities, unpaid internships, study abroad, assistance for law graduates, aid for medical students and scholarships for business students. Total aid to undergraduates will increase 5.9% to $161 million in the following academic year, while the number of admitted student fell from 4187 in the Class of 2019 to 3750 in the Class of 2020.

In further efforts to improve access to education, Northwestern established the Chicago Star Scholars Program that will provide financial assistance for students from City Colleges of Chicago to attend Northwestern for two years. This follows efforts to increase enrollment of students graduating from the Chicago Public Schools along with the university’s Good Neighbor, Great University program that provides funding to students from Chicago and Evanston high schools.

Northwestern also has several construction plans on the books, including for the lab and collaborative spaces in Mudd Library and the new Kellogg building on the lake, as well as the renovation of Bobb Hall. While I’m sure students would appreciate more Mudd windows overlooking the lake, it makes sense to question how exactly the tuition money is allocated.

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