Princeton University Enters `50G Club’

The total undergraduate fee package for Princeton University will rise 4.5 percent for the 2012-03 academic year, putting Princeton in the “$50,000 Club” of universities charging $50,000 or more per year.

The number of schools charging $50,000 or more has steadily been on the rise and includes schools like Harvard, Yale, Amherst, Williams and Boston University.

According to an analysis of College Board data by the Chronicle of Higher Education, 123 institutions charged $50,000 or more for tuition, fees, room and board for the 2011-12 academic year, up from 100 schools the previous year. In 2008, only five schools were in the $50,000 club.

Tuition to attend Princeton will be $38,650 The 4.5 percent increase is the biggest increase in six years. Room charges increased 5.4 percent  to $6,950, and board rates for a full meal plan increased 3.8 percent to $5,680. The fees combined total $51,280.

The University trustees approved the increase Jan. 28, along with a 5.6 percent increase in funding for undergraduate financial aid, as part of the adoption of the school’s $1.5 billion annual operating budget.

Graduate tuition also increased 4.5 percent, and board rates increased 4 percent for graduate students. Room rates for University housing for graduate students, faculty and staff increased an average of 3.5 percent, with some faculty and staff housing units currently below market rates increasing 5 percent.

The student health plan fee will rise from $1,620 to $1,850, reflecting the need to offset rapidly rising medical costs, school officials said.

University Provost Christopher Eisgruber said the school’s operating budget has benefited from a 21.9 percent return on investments by the University’s endowment in the past fiscal year, as well as University-wide cost-savings initiatives.

Following the recent global economic crisis, the University successfully completed a two-year $170 million reduction in the operating budget. As of June 30, Princeton’s endowment was valued at $17.1 billion, making it one of the largest university endowments in the country after Harvard and Yale.

“Despite this good news, the University budget continues to reflect lingering impacts from the recent recession, and the Priorities Committee was able to recommend a balanced budget only through continued financial discipline and a planned draw on one-time reserves,” Eisgruber said.

The University will continue to focus on fiscal discipline while pursuing key priorities, Eisgruber said, such as launching new initiatives; preserving its commitments to generous financial aid, superb teaching and world-class research; and retaining its human capital – students, faculty and staff.

The financial aid increase in the university’s budget bring the financial aid budget for 2012-13 to $116 million. Sixty percent of the current student body receives financial aid under the school’s no-loan financial aid program. This year, the average grant is $35,352 and for the coming year it is expected to be more than $37,000, University officials said.

The University’s budget includes $500,000 to fund high-priority initiatives in “internationalization”, health and well-being, and public safety.

The initiatives include:

-Increasing the dispatch capacity in the Department of Public Safety to strengthen public safety response and enhance critical security protocols.

-Hiring an additional staff member in the office of international programs to help students find placements overseas and to address risks they may face when abroad, develop new courses and programs abroad, and assist in managing international summer internships.

– Maintaining the heavily used fitness equipment in the Stephens Fitness Center in Dillon Gym and extending the opening hours.

– Expanding the use of background checks in the hiring of all University employees other than faculty members, while suggesting a study of the potential expansion of the program to include members of the faculty.

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