Top-tier US universities announce tuition hikes

By Doan Hung   April 1, 2024 | 06:08 pm PT
Top-tier US universities announce tuition hikes
Students walk past Wilson Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S., Sept. 20, 2018. Photo by Reuters
Tuition fees for the upcoming academic year for international students at 17 U.S. universities in the top 50 range from approximately $60,900 to $69,900, up by about 4% compared to the 2023/24 school year.

Among these, the University of Southern California, which was ranked 28th on the "Best National University Rankings" by the U.S. News and World Report, has announced the highest fee, at over $69,900 per year.

Slightly lower, around $68,000, are Cornell (ranked 12th), Brown (ranked 9th), and Dartmouth (ranked 18th). The rest of all have tuition fees over $60,000 a year.

In terms of the rate of increase, Rice University (ranked 17th) has the highest tuition hike compared to last year, from $57,200 to $62,800, an increase of 9.9%. This is followed by Stanford University (ranked 3rd) and John Hopkins University (ranked 9th), both of which increased by about 5%, to $62,900 and $65,900 a year, respectively.

The University of Virginia (ranked 24th) has the lowest increase, with tuition fees of about $60,700, up 3% from last year.

The above figures have yet to cover other fees such as accommodation and dining, and the actual cost per student would be higher.

For example, Emory University estimates each student will spend about $83,700 this year, while Dartmouth is at $87,700. At Stanford University (ranked 3rd) and Duke University (ranked 7th), the all-inclusive cost is also around $87,000.

The main reasons for the tuition increase as cited by most schools are inflation, salary increases for faculty, and investments in facilities.

For instance, Brown University increased salaries by 4.5% for faculty and staff, the highest since 2009, to remain competitive in the job market. MIT is investing in establishing the University Advising Center to support students in schooling, finance, and career development.

"Measured increases in tuition and fees reflect the increasing annual costs of delivering an education, such as employing a world-class faculty and staff, expanding interdisciplinary academic programs, offering the largest no-loan undergraduate financial aid program of its kind, and accounting for inflationary cost increases across many operating expense categories," the University of Pennsylvania Board said in a statement on Feb. 29.

Alongside tuition increases, schools are committed to increasing financial aid to ensure access to higher education.

Stanford University said it waived tuition and living costs for families with incomes below $100,000 last year. At MIT, Rice, and Pennsylvania, students from families with annual incomes below $75,000 receive similar policies. At Duke, the income threshold is below $65,000.

Data from the U.S. News and World Report gathering from 324 universities in the U.S. shows that college costs, including tuition and living expenses, have risen over the past 20 years. From 2004 to 2024, public university tuition in the country increased by 127-158%, depending on whether students are in-state or out-of-state.

Meanwhile, private schools, which do not differentiate tuition fees between international and domestic students, have increased by 132%.

The rise in tuition fees has led to a student debt crisis. According to CNN, the total student loan debt in the U.S. is now $1.6 trillion. Forty-three million Americans are in debt due to college education, many of whom will carry this debt into retirement.

For international students, the increase in tuition makes pursuing the American dream even more challenging.

Most of them are not eligible for financial aid from the government like domestic students, while only being allowed to work up to 20 hours per week, as per a regulation applied to foreign students.

According to the Open Doors report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) for the academic year of 2022/23, the U.S. hosted over one million students from 210 countries and territories, an increase of 11.5% from the previous academic year.

More than 50% of international students pursue degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), contributing about $40.1 billion to the U.S. economy.

The number of Vietnamese students in the U.S. is about 21,900, ranking fifth, and contributing $816 million.

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