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


SMU tuition increase boasts benefits

It is no secret that Southern Methodist University is one of the most expensive private institutions in the United States. However, the rapidly increasing tuition is coming to students and families by surprise.

Tuition, excluding room and board, during the academic school year of 2008-09, was $33,170, according to the SMU Institutional Research Office. Tuition for the 2011-12 school year, which happens to be my final year at SMU, amounted to a steep $39,430.

Furthermore, in just three short years, there has been an 18.8 percent increase in tuition cost.

Kent Best, the Executive Director of Public Affairs at SMU, explains that tuition and fees increase in order to enhance the quality of education and other areas of budget.

“SMU is committed to offering small classes with distinguished faculty, a unique experience, and engaged learning opportunities that help students achieve their goals while earning their degree and after graduation,” says Best.

Because of increased student aid, greater education value, and improved teaching and technology resources, SMU’s tuition must escalate each year. Consequently, students will be affected in both positive and negative ways.

Many students, including Lydia St. Eve, a senior psychology major, understand the reason for increased expenses.

“It’s unrealistic to think so many people can pay that much money every year,” says Lydia St. Eve, who is the fourth in her family to attend SMU. “However, SMU is an amazing school, and a great education should be a top priority for every student out there.”

Best insists that increasing the tuition is necessary to compete with other nationally ranked private universities who are doing the same.

In fact, a recent survey from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities revealed that tuitions and fees at private colleges and universities increased an average of 4.6 percent for the 2011-12 academic year.

“Our tuition and fees compare favorably to other nationally ranked private universities,” says John Kalb, director of Institutional Research at SMU.

The Chronicle of Higher Educations lists top competitors such as Wake Forest, Emory, and Tulane with tuitions of $41,576, $41,164, and $43,334, respectively, all surpassing SMU’s annual expenses.

The NAICU explains that tuition increases at private universities serve for several reasons: to enhance the educational value they provide, to remain competitive in the marketplace, and to increase institutional student aid at a faster rate during a difficult time for students and families.”

Therefore, it is not just tuition that is skyrocketing nationwide, but student aid is also up by an average of 7 percent at private universities for the 2011-12 academic year.

“A portion of the tuition and fee increases support need- and merit-based financial aid, which has increased 60 percent since 2008,” says Stephanie Dupaul, vice president for Enrollment Management. “We are able to help students who want to be here who might not otherwise be able to afford the full cost of tuition and fees.”

SMU’s most recent financial aid catalog revealed that in 2010, 4,767, out of the 6,192 undergraduate students, received some type of financial aid. In other words, 77 percent of students benefited from SMU’s financial aid enhancements.

Despite these generous efforts, not every financially assisted student is satisfied. Junior Lexi Whelan says that it is extremely difficult to obtain sufficient financial aid.

“I have a really high grade point average, and I still only receive $5,000 of financial aid each year,” says Lexi. “For how hard I work and how expensive everything else is at SMU, it just doesn’t seem adequate.”

Dupaul, however, insists that students receiving financial aid are supported in more ways than just their scholarships.

“Our location in Dallas also means that students have access to ample housing, a lower cost of living than in many of their home states, and opportunities for paid internships and co-ops,” says Dupaul.

The financial aid opportunities certainly hold a strong portion of the SMU tuition, but so do fees supporting faculty and staff salaries, as well as library improvements.

Because of these advantages, Dupaul believes tuition increases will actually have a positive impact.

“Our increasing number of applications suggest that applicants recognize the great value of an SMU education,” says Dupaul.

St. Eve, who receives no financial aid, agrees.

“$39,430 is a lot of money, but SMU is a prominent school and is becoming more educationally recognized every year,” says St. Eve. “You definitely get what you pay for!”

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