Carnegie Mellon announces 4 percent tuition increase

Carnegie Mellon University announced that tuition for the academic year (AY) 2022-2023 will be $59,864, a 4% annual increase. This is less than the rate of inflation, which grew by over 7% in 2021. Here is what to know about tuition changes:

What is the context of tuition raises?
After last year’s pandemic-related freeze, the Board of Trustees voted to resume the annual tuition raise. Provost and Chief Academic Officer Jim Garrett explained to The Tartan that annual raises generally align with “the average of our private-school peers.”

In the past 20 years, private universities in the U.S. have increased tuition by an average of 144%. Comparatively, tuition at Carnegie Mellon has grown by 58%. Tartan tuition is over $13,000 more expensive than the private university average.

The past three increases, implemented in AY 17-18, AY 18-19, and AY 19-20, hovered around 3%.

Why was the raise implemented?
“Typically,” explained Garrett, “increased costs result in an increase in our tuition and fees. Increases in operating expenses, personnel costs (faculty, staff, and student employees), costs associated with renovations to existing academic facilities, and additional resources spent on improving the student experience all factor into rate increases.”

What are increased funds expected to promote?
“About 46% of the university’s billion-dollar operating revenue is provided by undergraduate and graduate tuition (net of financial aid). Tuition and fees cover 85% of the expenses incurred providing educational programs and student support services... The remainder of this cost is covered by gifts and endowment draw, meaning that tuition does not cover the full cost of providing educational programs and student support services,” Garrett wrote to The Tartan.

How did the Board of Trustees decide on 4%?
The trustees look to recommendations made by university leadership. The suggested increase is a product of simulation analysis that considers “the university’s mission and strategic goal [and] anticipated increases in the cost of delivering … excellent education,” according to Garrett.

Carnegie Mellon groups its goals into three categories: individual experience, university community, and societal impact. The first aim listed in individual experience is Learning Science, followed by feeling connected, promoting health and wellness, deep disciplinary knowledge, interpersonal skills, and learning how to learn. University-wide goals emphasize diversity, inclusivity, “world-class talent,” and innovation. Societal impact focuses on supporting both local and global communities through research.

What does this mean for financial aid?
Garrett reported that, “Over the past six years, our annual undergraduate financial aid spending has increased 55%, and in FY22, we spent $120.8M on financial aid.” Tuition rose by 12% in the same time period.

At Carnegie Mellon, 45% of students receive financial aid. The average offer for the 2,619 students awarded need-based grants was $49,988 in AY 2020-2021. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that 90% of students at nonprofit undergraduate institutions receive financial aid. The Class of 2021 reported an average loan debt of $20,353, compared to the national average of $30,600.

“Our goal is always to provide a world-class education,” wrote Garrett. “We recognize the financial investment students and their families make by choosing to attend CMU and are committed to delivering an exceptional educational experience while making it as affordable as possible.”