The cost of a Notre Dame education continues to rise but at the lowest rate in decades, and increases in financial aid continue to outpace increases in tuition and fees.
Trustees approved an increase of $1,150 in tuition and $290 in room and board for next fall, bringing the average undergraduate student’s bill to $29,100 a year. The combined increase of $1,440 or 5.2 percent is the smallest, percentage-wise, in two decades. Looked at separately, the rise in tuition – an identical 5.2 percent – is the slimmest since 1960, when tuition was $1,000 a year and was left unchanged following a hike of $100 or 11 percent in 1959.
The tuition and fee increases are needed to offset the costs of maintaining and improving academic infrastructure items like the faculty, library and computer systems, over and above what can be paid with endowment earnings and other revenue sources. Even with bull-market returns on Notre Dame’s $2.45 billion endowment, the University’s per-student endowment is one-third that of peer private, highly selective universities, making it much more dependent upon tuition.
The good news for students is that the amount of financial aid the University awards continues to increase dramatically. Scholarship aid this year is estimated to total $27.8 million, which is $4 million or 17 percent more than the $23.8 million distributed in 1998-99. This year’s freshman class received more in financial aid – almost $10,800 for the average recipient – than did the entire student body a decade ago, when scholarship enhancement was targeted by Notre Dame’s officers and trustees as their top priority.
Even with the price increase, Notre Dame continues to cost less than all but two of the other institutions in U.S. News & World Report magazine’s top 20 national universities.