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Lowest Tuition Increase in Years
March 3, 2009, Volume 55, No. 24

Building on its historic, multi-year efforts to increase access and affordability for lower- and middle-income families, the University of Pennsylvania announced its smallest tuition increase in 41 years. The Trustees approved a tuition increase of 3.75 percent for the 2009-2010 academic year.

“With the mounting financial stress that many of our students and families are experiencing right now, we feel a responsibility to relieve some of their pressures by holding down tuition increases while honoring our commitment to keep Penn affordable to every undergraduate who enrolls here,” President Amy Gutmann said. “That is why we are moving forward with our financial-aid initiative to enable all of our undergraduate students to graduate from Penn loan-free.”

Total charges—tuition, fees and average charges for room and board—for an undergraduate will rise by 3.8 percent. Undergraduate tuition will increase to $34,868, compared with $33,608 this year; average room and board will increase to $11,016, from $10,622 this year; and fees will increase to $4,102, from $3,918.

To keep Penn affordable, the University is also expanding its financial-aid budget for the coming year by $17.6 million, or 15 percent, to $137 million. These increases come on top of the 43 percent increase in Penn’s financial-aid budget since 2004, the first year of Dr. Gutmann’s presidency.

In 2008-09, all undergraduate students with calculated family incomes of less than $100,000 received loan-free packages, while other undergraduates received a 10 percent reduction in their need-based loans. Penn’s new initiative will substitute grants for loans for all aid-eligible undergraduates beginning this fall. A typical Penn student from a family making less than $90,000 will have tuition and fees fully covered by a grant. A student from a typical family with income less than $40,000 will not be expected to pay tuition, fees, room or board.  

Penn is one of fewer than 50 private institutions in the United States that admits academically qualified students without regard to their families’ ability to pay. Of the handful of other colleges and universities that have adopted no-loan policies in their financial-aid packages, Penn has the largest undergraduate enrollment at 10,275.

“It is our responsibility to educate future generations of leaders, regardless of economic background,” Dr. Gutmann said. “The excellence of the education we offer on our campus depends in part on our attracting students with varied economic and cultural backgrounds and contrasting life experiences who live and learn together.”

Increasing educational access remains a priority of Penn’s historic $3.5 billion Making History campaign, which has raised $2.3 billion to date.  The campaign includes a fundraising goal of $350 million for undergraduate student aid and another $323 million for graduate and professional student aid.

Related: Trustees’ February Meeting Coverage

Almanac - March 3, 2009, Volume 55, No. 24