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Corporation approves tuition hike of 7.6 percent

By Miguel Cantillo

The MIT Corporation announced last Friday an increase of 7.1 percent in tuition, room, and board rates, raising the total cost to undergraduates of attending MIT next year to $20,700.

The $1365 increase is slightly more than last year's $1295 price hike. Tuition alone will rise 7.6 percent, from $14,500 to $15,600. Last year's increase was 8.3 percent.

Vice President of Financial Operations James J. Culliton said that this figure varies each year. "The [original] number we had for next year was 8.3 percent, but eventually President Gray decided to give a bit of relief, reducing it by $100" he added. Culliton acknowledged that the tuition increase was above expected inflation, but argued that the tuition price indicator has been on the top edge of inflation.

One of the justifications Culliton gave for the increase was that "tuition traditionally pays only for a fraction of the cost of education. If you look at it, that actually what's happening. Sixty percent of our students are on financial aid. The average need met last year was $13,000. We're spending $9 million on financial aid."

The self-help level, the amount of money each student is expected to provide through loans or work, was increased by $400 to a total of $5700. Vice President Constantine B. Simonides believed that this increase would not impair MIT's competitiveness vis a vis similar universities. "The self-help level was kept at $4900 for four years, while the competing schools have increased their figure. The gap that existed before has been closing," he said.

Undergraduate Association President Paul L. Antico '91 argued that the increase in self-help would "shut MIT's competitiveness" and that the different levels of aid "complicated the system."

Simonides did not believe that the increased costs would deter students from coming to MIT, in part because the Institute has a special program to lower the self-help level of those who need the most aid. "The students from the lower quartile of income has increased in the past years," he said.

Both Simonides and Culliton strongly defended need-blind admissions. "This is a very important policy; there is no decision to change it," Simonides said.

Culliton agreed, saying, "We are very intent in maintaining need-blind admissions."

Student food bills were most affected by the increases. The board component of total costs will rise by nine percent to $1470 next year. Alan Leo, the general manager of MIT Food Services, argued that food costs have been rising faster than average for the past six or seven years. "Labor costs have also increased considerably, and we're behind the other schools' board levels," he argued.

Antico vowed to "work closer with the Food Service, because many people will react to this price increase. There is a huge deficit [in this area, and] something is unbalanced there," he concluded.

Simonides said that this year's Institute deficit will be $4 million, as opposed to last year's $6 million deficit.

Culliton added, "MIT's purpose was to have flat budgets apart from salary increases -- which have been relatively low. Five percent for faculty, and four percent for the rest."

But not all is bleak for MIT's finances. The Campaign for the Future, MIT's endowment effort, has revised upward its goal to $700 million. According to Simonides, the money is coming faster than expected. However, the effects of this campaign are not going to be felt in the short term, since much of the money is in pledges and tied for specific purposes, he said.