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University financial aid budget grows with tuition increase

Stanford’s financial aid budget will increase commensurate to a 3.5-percent rise in the cost of undergraduate tuition for the 2013-14 academic year, according to Director of Financial Aid Karen Cooper. The budget for need-based financial aid to undergrads is $130 million for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Undergraduate tuition will increase to $42,690 next year, compared to $41,250 this year, and room-and-board charges will increase from $12,721 to $13,166, according to a University press release. The Campus Health Service Fee will increase to from $179 to $185 per quarter next year. Undergraduate charges will total $56,411 next year, compared to $54,506 this year.

“[T]here are lots of reasons why tuition goes up,” Cooper said. “Tuition is the university’s source of unrestricted dollars, which is money that can be spent in any way. Most of our salaries come from unrestricted money. Tuition makes up about half of that general funds amount… The general funds do a lot basic work around campus that are not covered by endowment funds.”

Cooper downplayed the significance of the projected rise in tuition, noting that tuition costs have risen by similar amounts for each of the past five years.

“It’s been a while since it’s been higher than that,” Cooper said. “Increases have been in that range for quite some time.”

Even with rising tuition costs, however, Cooper emphasized Stanford’s commitment to meeting students’ full needs in terms of financial assistance.

“That is how I get involved in this discussion,” she said. “By how much do we need to increase the financial aid budget [in order to continue to meet that commitment]?”

As part of that commitment, households with incomes of $100,000 or less are not expected to pay any tuition. Households with incomes below $60,000 do not pay for tuition, nor room-and-board. In all, 50 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid from Stanford, totaling more than 3,400 students this year.

“People are comforted by the fact that this policy is going to make Stanford affordable regardless of what the price is,” Cooper said. “In a way, everybody gets some benefit from the endowment because the full cost of a Stanford education is higher than the amount of tuition.”

Even with the University’s financial aid program, however, students remain responsible for an estimated $5,000 each year in books, travel and personal expenses, according to Cooper. That sum is typically covered by summer earnings and part-time jobs during the school year.

“We do our best to estimate student need, and tuition is part of that estimate,” Cooper noted. “We look at the federal and state aid that is available, and whatever is not covered by those resources, we look to our funds. As tuition increases, financial aid goes up as well.”

“It’s hard to tell where we’re headed [with tuition increases],” she added. “Increases have been going on since the late 70s, when tuition started increasing rapidly… $60,000 a year, adding in everything else that we look at, is a really significant number. It’s a lot of money for anybody these days.”

Correction: In a previous version of this article, The Daily quoted Director of Financial Aid Karen Cooper as saying that there was “no official reason for why tuition has increased.” In fact, Cooper said: “[T]here are lots of reasons why tuition goes up. I don’t have for you the official reason.” The Daily regrets the error. 

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Josee Smith

Josee Smith

Josee Smith is a senior this year, majoring in anthropology with a minor in Spanish. She is the desk editor for the student groups beat and has spent her last 3 years at The Daily as both a staff writer and contributing writer. Originally from Washington State, Josee came to California for the warm weather and stayed for the awesome reporting. To contact her, please email jsmith11 'a' stanford.edu.