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Tuition will rise 8.3%

By Karen Kaplan

Tuition for the 1991-92 academic year was set at $16,900 last Friday. The Executive Commit

tee of the MIT Corporation approved President Charles M. Vest's recommendation to increase tuition by 8.3 percent at its monthly meeting.

The average room and board cost will increase by $230 to $5330. Altogether, tuition, room and board will increase by 7.4 percent to $22,230. The self-help level was increased by $400, or seven percent, to $6100.

"The decision was made on the basis of a very detailed study conducted by the Office of the Vice President for Financial Operations, with particular input from the Office of Financial Aid," Vest said. "My recommendation was arrived at with the advice of the entire Academic Council."

Vest also noted that "tuition has certainly been a common topic of discussion in the numerous informal meetings with students I have participated in this year."

Tuition usually covers "only half the cost of an MIT education," Vest said. The remainder is met by earnings from the MIT endowment and by unrestricted income from gifts and grants.

Those concerned in the decision-making process all stressed the importance of maintaining a need-blind admissions program when setting the tuition level. "One of the ironic facts of the financing of higher education today is that private colleges and universities must charge very substantial tuitions in order to ensure that they have the resources to provide financial aid to their students," Vest said.

Leonard V. Gallagher '54, director of Student Financial Aid, denied that the tuition increase would make it more difficult for his office to accommodate needy students. "We're only planning on 30 additional clients [for financial aid] out of 2500," he said.

"While the cost of tuition is going up by 8.3 percent, the available scholarship money will increase by approximately 10 percent. That's one of the reasons we have to raise tuition -- to increase financial aid," Gallagher continued.

Gallagher also noted that federal participation in MIT scholarship programs has declined. The federal government used to fund about one third of MIT scholarships; it now accounts for about one tenth.

Both Gallagher and Vest pointed out that very few MIT students actually pay the full tuition, room and board costs. This year, 57 percent of undergraduates received financial aid in the forms of long-term loans, student jobs and scholarships from the Institute.

"Only 21 percent of MIT students and their families pay the full price of tuition, room and board; the rest are assisted to some extent by either MIT or external funds," Vest said.

Vest pointed out that "MIT students who have applied for financial aid are distributed almost uniformly across the spectrum of family income."

According to Vest, "about 20 percent of those applying come from the bottom national quartile of family income and 48 percent come from the two middle quartiles. There seems to be no income-related skewing of the probability that a student will register at MIT once admitted.

"I think [the higher tuition] probably discourages some [students from applying], but our mission in this office is to try to get the word across that not everyone has to pay the full tuition," Gallagher said. "We try to do a fair job of assessing what people can pay. We try to dispel unreasonable concerns about cost."

The $16,900 tuition level is $100 higher than was expected. "I always feel that if there are folks who are able to pay more, then within reason, we should ask them to pay that extra in order to maintain a broad-based aid program that will allow us to aid every student who is admitted, regardless of their family circumstances," Gallagher said.

Vest echoed this sentiment. "A proud part of MIT's tradition has been that it has attracted an unusually large number of students from financially modest backgrounds, often the first of their families to attend a university," he said. "Our students are admitted to MIT, not by virtue of their connections, not by virtue of their pocketbooks, but by virtue their minds and accomplishments."