The Rice University administration announced Friday that undergraduate tuition for the 2015-16 school year will rise to $41,560, an increase of 4.2 percent from this year’s cost of $39,880. Next year’s total cost will be $55,903. The cost of Rice’s graduate programs will also increase, keeping doctoral and undergraduate tuition equal.
Rice’s records show that tuition will have risen 135 percent in the last 15 years from the average annual price paid by undergraduates in 2000-01, $17,720. Over the same period, the United States has experienced 36 percent inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The tuition of many peer institutions has also increased faster than inflation over the same period, according to their archives. Vanderbilt University’s tuition rose 110 percent since 1998; Duke University and Northwestern University saw tuition increases of 91 percent and 69 percent since 2000, respectively. In absolute terms, Rice’s tuition is still less than Vanderbilt’s, Duke’s and Northwestern’s, though the gap between the prices has decreased since the beginning of the century.
According to data gathered by the College Board, the average yearly cost of a four-year private college was $31,231 for 2014-15. The cost of such colleges has risen 41 percent since 1999, slightly faster than inflation. The Princeton Review currently names Rice No. 12 on its list of “Colleges That Pay You Back,” and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine ranked Rice No. 4 for best value.
According to Kathy Collins, vice president for finance, tuition increases help cover the costs of educating students, faculty salaries, library resources and other operational expenses.
Additionally, Collins said tuition should be compared between schools in terms of real dollars.
“Tuition at Rice has been about $5,000 to $6,000 less than at its peer institutions, so comparisons should be based on the dollar amount of increase rather than the percentage,” Collins said. “To generate the same dollar increase in tuition, Rice has to increase its rate at a higher percentage than its peers.”