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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 — Houston, TX

Undergrad tuition to increase 5.7% next academic year

Channing Wang / Thresher

By Spring Chenjp     3/28/23 10:01pm

Rice’s undergraduate tuition for the 2023-24 academic year will be $57,210, a 5.7% increase from the previous year. This brings the total cost of attendance up to $74,028, marking the fourth consecutive year of tuition increases and highest percentage increase in recent years. The most recent comparable tuition hike was an increase of 5.4% for the 2010-11 academic year, which came in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

According to President Reggie DesRoches, rising inflation is a key reason for tuition increases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, increases in inflation for the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years are the highest in decades

“The current economic conditions — including inflation, fluctuating market conditions and increasing costs — are creating cost pressures,” DesRoches wrote in an email to the Thresher.

For the current academic year, tuition was raised 3.9% to $54,100, and in the 2021-22 academic year, it had increased by 3.5%

Vice President of Finance and Administration Kelly Fox said low endowment returns were a consideration in setting tuition costs. 

“We are dependent on the endowment, and having multiple years of near 0% return creates pressure,” Fox said. “But it’s not in a vacuum, it’s a piece [of factors impacting tuition].”

In the fiscal year 2022, the Rice endowment return rate was 0.1%. The Rice Management Company expects that return to be among the highest across comparable universities.

DesRoches said Rice’s tuition increase is comparable among peer institutions. 

“Our peers that have announced their tuition and fees have increases ranging from $2,400 to $4,100,” DesRoches said. “Our increase is $3,168. Rice still has the lowest tuition among our private peer institutions.”

Stanford University, Duke University and Washington University in St. Louis will increase tuition by $4,100, $2,691 and $2,330, respectively.

In the fall of 2022, the university increased the Rice Investment scholarship program — which covers full tuition, fees and room and board — income threshold to families with incomes under $75,000, up from the previous threshold of $65,000. 

According to DesRoches, aid packages typically increase for students receiving financial aid with tuition increases. 

“When tuition increases, financial aid will likely increase provided a family’s financial circumstance hasn’t changed,” DesRoches said. “We remain committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated need of Rice students on financial aid through our no-loan aid policy.”

According to Fox, tuition increases go towards improving the student experience. 

“We’ve been talking about our investment in student and staff wages,” Fox said. “We’ve seen a greater utilization of health insurance benefits this year, which then drives [tuition] increases, so that’s already at the forefront of where we’ll be investing.”

DesRoches said that revenue from the tuition increase has not yet been officially allocated in next year’s operating budget. Student tuition and fees comprised 28% of the university’s operating budget in fiscal year 2022.

“We are still completing the fiscal year 2024 budget and will have final information about where investments are being made in June,” DesRoches said. “We are continuing our commitment to invest in students through the Rice Investment; hiring and retaining top faculty to maintain our remarkably low student-to-faculty ratio and … new programs to enhance student life.”

Graduate tuition for some programs will increase, while others will remain the same. Doctoral tuition will increase by 5.7% as well, to $57,210, the same amount as undergraduate tuition. Tuition for graduate architecture students will increase by 1.0% from the previous year. Tuition for graduate music students will be $31,000, a 3% increase. Tuition for master’s programs in religion, energy economics and human-computer interaction and human factors will remain the same at $20,000, $58,000 and $35,000, respectively.

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