Penn Hikes Tuition—and the Grants to Cover It

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In keeping with last year and the two decades that preceded it, the price of a Penn education will rise faster than the general inflation rate. The total cost of undergraduate tuition, fees, and room and board will increase 4.9 percent, to $46,124, in the 2007-2008 academic year. Tuition accounts for $35,916 of that amount. The University also announced plans to replace loans with grants for students of families with annual incomes of less than $60,000.

The boost in financial-aid grants is an expansion of a policy begun last year, when loans were phased out for students of families making less than $50,000. By raising the income threshold, the University hopes to attract more lower-middle-income students, who tend to be underrepresented in the student body and typically graduate with high debt burdens. Last year the policy benefited about 300 students, according to William Schilling C’66, director of student financial aid. This year it will affect another 225, across all four undergraduate classes.

In light of the recent debate over Penn’s decision to retain its early-admissions program [“Gazetteer,” Nov/Dec 2006], Schilling characterizes the financial-aid policy as “a more direct kind of announcement” that Penn is committed to “high-need students.” While Penn’s need-blind admissions policy is designed to enable anyone who gains admission to attend, the fact is that relatively few low- and middle-income students apply to begin with.

“They tend not to have selective private schools like Penn on their radar screen. And one of the most important things President Gutmann wanted to do with the announcement is to get the word out in a general way that Penn is affordable,” Schilling says.

As in years past, Penn’s tuition increase is in line with upward trends at Harvard, Yale, and similar universities. In 1989, the year in which many in the incoming freshman class were born, an all-inclusive year at Penn cost slightly more than $19,000—or about $31,000 in today’s dollars.—T.P.

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