Verbum Ultimum: A Rising Price Tag
This year, Dartmouth saw the highest return on its endowment of any member of the Ivy League to report its returns, doubling its benchmark growth rate ("Endowment sees 5.8 percent return," Oct. 16). This is certainly a commendable feat. However, over the course of the last decade, our education has become less and less affordable. The increases in Dartmouth's tuition and fees and total costs of attendance have drastically exceeded those of most of its peer institutions ("College ranked seventh most expensive," Oct. 19). The College now boasts the 11th-highest tuition in the country and ranks seventh for total cost of attendance with room and board included, moving up from 40th for tuition and fees and 36th for total cost in the 2009-2010 rankings. Columbia University is the only member of the Ivy League whose costs of attendance exceeded that of Dartmouth. Given the success of our endowment this past year, we see little reason why Dartmouth's tuition should be increasing at such a staggering rate.
In 2009, when the Class of 2013 entered the College, tuition and fees and total cost of attendance were $38,679 and $49,974, respectively. Those numbers have soared to $43,782 and $57,996. The 2008 recession certainly posed a financial challenge for the College, but our peers also experienced the same climate, and it is alarming that the cost of a Dartmouth education continues to skyrocket while those at most other Ivy League schools have increased at more reasonable rates.
All members of the Ivy League claim to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need through financial aid programs. However, for a large number of families, particularly those on the cusp of qualifying for financial aid, the cost of attending Dartmouth remains a heavy burden. Admissions statistics show that the College is not facing a demand problem due to the enormous price tag of a Dartmouth degree, but it would be a shame for the College to deter top prospective students whose families cannot manage the financial burden of sending their son or daughter to Dartmouth after need-based financial aid calculations are made. The endowment should be used as a means of defraying the exorbitant cost of our education.
The College has used the gifts it has received from alumni to launch several new projects and initiatives over the last few years, some of which have been beneficial to the College. We fear, however, that not enough attention has been given to keeping costs for students in check. Perhaps the success of the endowment's growth this past year presents an opportunity to slow the exorbitant and abnormal increase in the cost of a Dartmouth education.