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MIT Announces Tuition Hike, Required Student Activity Fee: New Fee to Support Activities Fund, Zesiger Athletics Center

By Harold Fox


President Charles M. Vest announced Friday that tuition and fees for the academic year 2002-2003 will be $28,230, an increase of 4.7 percent from last year.

In addition, all undergraduate and graduate students will be required to pay a $200 fee “to create a $600,000 student activities fund and to help defray additional expenses associated with the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center,” according to a release issued Friday.

Room and board is also expected to rise an average of 4.4 percent to $7,830, bringing total average expenses for students to $36,060 per year and the total increase to $1,610.

Students receiving financial aid will be expected to pay the same self-help contribution of $7,600. Last year, this was reduced from $9,600 as part of a major initiative undertaken to make MIT more appealing to prospective students who would otherwise have deemed the school a financial impossibility.

The tuition increase will continue to make MIT one of the most expensive universities in the country. The highest tuition at a private, four year university in 2001 was $27,982, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. The increase is also slightly higher than in recent years. MIT has raised tuition an average of 3.9 percent for each of the past four academic years.

Activity fee surprises leaders

As of last evening, student leaders had not been informed by MIT of the new fee.

“It’s a complete surprise to me,” said Alvar Saenz Otero G, president of the Association for Student Activities. “I can’t say it’s a bad thing. As a member of student government, I would have loved to be involved in this decision.” Saenz Otero said that he hopes student governments will have a large say in the fee’s allocations. “I know that this is a very high fee compared to other schools. As long as there’s a student voice in this, it’s a worthy cause.”

Undergraduate Association President Jaime E. Devereaux ’02 said that she had heard the idea of such a fee before, but did not expect it to be implemented.

“I went to an Academic Council meeting within the past month, and they talked about additional fees,” Devereaux said. “I spoke out against it, and so did the [Graduate Student Council]. I was not under the impression that they would do it.”

Devereaux worried that the use of a separate fee will set a dangerous precedent for the Institute. “What this enables MIT to do in the future is to introduce other costs associated with going to school here,” Devereaux said. “They can grow that cost at a higher rate than they want tuition to appear to grow. The sprinkling out of fees kind of hides the true cost of education.”

Devereaux also disapproved of the use of student fees for administration of the Zesiger Center. “As far as I know, the fee is more in support of operating expenses for the Zesiger Center,” she said. Devereaux said that students would probably not be required to pay such a fee if MIT’s endowment had grown sufficiently to cover operating expenses. she said. “It was not grown enough, so now it’s partially coming out of students’ pockets.”

MIT administrators could not be reached for comment.

Students expected increase

Several students said that they were somewhat upset by the increase, but that they were not taken by surprise.

“I guess the cost of stuff keeps going up,” said Eugene C. Glover ’02. “They make all this money on research, but they keep charging us, the students. I can’t say I’m surprised, though.”

“If you look at the whole scale, it doesn’t make much of a difference,” said Grace A. Chou ’05. “If MIT increases its tuition by $1200, people are still going to apply here.”

Tuition pays approximately half the cost of a student’s education, according to MIT. The rest of the cost is paid by alumni gifts and investment returns from MIT’s estimated $6 billion endowment.