The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Getting your money’s worth

SMU’s cost enters Ivy League realm
Graphic by Jennifer Parrish
Graphic by Jennifer Parrish

Graphic by Jennifer Parrish

As students return to the Hilltop this fall, the cost of attendance for full-time undergraduates living on campus is more expensive than Yale.

The cost of attending SMU for the 2009-10 academic year is $47,606, including tuition, fees, room and board. The cost of attendance at Yale is $47,500.

SMU’s sticker price is also not far from that of other schools in the Ivy League.

Harvard and Princeton, the nation’s top schools according to the U.S. News & World Report, charge their students $48,868 and $47,855, respectively. At Brown University the tuition is $49,128. Cornell’s price is $48,134 and Dartmouth takes the cake with $49,974.

“Right now, I feel we do not necessarily have the reputation to charge so much, but once we do I feel it will be a lot more founded,” said SMU senior Sasha Lamadrid.

But other students, like junior Stephanie Chung, said that SMU’s sticker price is acceptable.

“SMU has lots of resources and opportunities which help justify its cost. But 80 to 90 percent of the student body does not use them, so SMU may not be advantageous to them,” she said.

Last year the cost of tuition and fees on the Hilltop totaled $33,170.

According to the College Board, the average published cost of tuition and fees at four-year, non-profit private universities rose 5.9 percent to $25,143 for the 2008-09 academic year. With tuition rising 6 percent for the 2009-10 academic year, the cost of tuition and fees for full-time SMU undergraduate students is $35,160.

In a letter sent to students in December 2008, President Turner wrote that “SMU’s tuition and fees compare favorably to other national universities.”

“Tuition and fees last year were lower than Duke, Notre Dame, Tulane and Wake Forest,” said Brad Cheves, vice president of Development and External Affairs. He cited a survey by Cambridge Associates, which ranked SMU No. 62 out of 95 comparable private universities nationally in the cost of tuition and fees.

When comparing tuition and fees costs at SMU to similar private universities in Texas, SMU ranks the highest. At Baylor University, tuition and fees is $27,910, Rice University is $32,105 and Trinity University in San Antonio is $34,514.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, tuition and fees range from $26,294 at Catholic-affiliated University of Dallas to $28,250 at Texas Christian University.

Only 9 percent of students attend colleges with tuition and fee costs of more than $33,000, according to the College Board.

However, a school’s sticker price and how much a student actually pays to attend an institution can vary. Cheves said that SMU sets itself apart from many Ivy League schools by giving students more than just need-based aid.

“SMU effectively discounts tuition for thousands of students by offering both merit and need-based scholarships,” he said. “Nearly 77 percent of new first-year students receive some type of financial assistance.”

“People shouldn’t discount a school based on tuition costs. There is a lot of financial aid and scholarships to help people pay for their stuff,” freshman Devin Regan said.

Overall, the SMU cost of attendance increased almost 6 percent from last year. It was also a reduction from the 8 percent increase the year prior.

Tony Pals, director of public information for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said the university’s tuition increase is normal compared with other schools.

“SMU’s 6 percent increase is in line with the average annual tuition increase at private colleges over the past 10 years,” Pals said. “This year, like SMU, most private universities are slowing their typical price increases, within their financial means, while making sure to protect academic quality.”

Although the increase in costs may be “comparable” to other schools, the university has become expensive to some.

Sophomore Bridget Le said the financial costs associated with attending SMU have a toll on some students.

“I know several students who are attending public universities rather than finishing their degrees at SMU,” she said.

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