Penn Announces Lowest Increase in Total Undergraduate Charges in 30 Years

PHILADELPHIA -- The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania have approved an increase of 3.9 percent in total undergraduate student charges for the 1998-99 academic year, the lowest percentage increase in three decades, according to Penn President Judith Rodin.

The Trustees also approved enhancements to the University's financial aid program aimed at keeping it one of the largest and most competitive financial aid programs in the country.

The University will maintain its need-blind admissions policy and will continue to provide aid packages to cover students' demonstrated needs for all four undergraduate years.

"The enhancements strengthen Penn's financial aid program, considered one of the best in the nation," President Rodin said, adding that it is a "top priority to keep it so; we do not intend to lose a single student because he or she believes a Penn education is financially out of reach.

"The Trustees," she said, "are sending a very clear, strong and positive message to present and future Penn students: This institution will continue to recruit and enroll the finest students, and no student will need to decline the opportunity to experience a Penn education for financial reasons.

"By firmly holding the line on our costs and by sustaining and improving our financial aid program," she added, "we will continue to keep Penn's doors open to our nation's most qualified students."

Today's announcement accelerates the steady reduction in the rate of increase in Penn's undergraduate student charges that has taken place over the past several years. The total charges for an undergraduate next year -- including tuition, fees, room and board -- will be $30,490, an increase of 3.9 percent. Tuition and fees will total $23,254, an increase of 4.5 percent; the average room rate will be $4,560, an increase of 3.0 percent; and there will be no increase at all in the present charge of $2,676 for the standard 15 meal plan.

"Our 3.9 percent increase is slightly below last year's average family income growth rate of approximately 4 percent across the nation," President Rodin noted. "I am pleased that, with Cornell, Penn continues to have the lowest student charges in the Ivy League. Our continuing efforts to reduce costs and limit price increases are clearly working."

Penn has received nearly 17,000 applicants for the class of 2002, an all-time record and an increase of almost 8 percent from last year. "The academic quality of our applicants is also at an all-time high," President Rodin added. "These students recognize the extraordinary quality of the undergraduate experience at Penn.

"Our applicant pool is also exceptionally diverse," she said. "Penn consciously and successfully attracts world-class students from across the economic spectrum."

Penn's undergraduate, need-based grant budget for the 1998-99 academic year will exceed $52 million, reflecting the University's commitment to enrolling the most talented students without regard to their financial circumstances. President Rodin said that the average family income of aided students is approximately $56,000, the lowest in the Ivy League.

In the current academic year, approximately 57 percent of Penn undergraduates receive some form of financial aid, including grants, loans and work-study funds. Nearly 41 percent receive need-based grants totaling $50 million from the University. These students each receive an average of $15,200 in grants, including federal, state and other grants.

Recognizing the need to increase the University's financial aid resources, Penn's trustees have been engaged in an ambitious campaign to raise $200 million for the financial aid endowment. Spearheading the campaign is P. Roy Vagelos, M.D., chairman of the Board of Trustees and former chairman of Merck & Company, Inc. Dr. Vagelos has made the undergraduate financial aid campaign his top personal priority.

For the 1998-99 academic year, Penn's trustees approved an enhanced financial aid program containing the following important features:

  • New "trustee scholarships" for the most academically gifted students with demonstrated financial need. These Trustee Scholars will receive financial aid packages that contain no loans: The full amount of a student's demonstrated need will be covered by grants and work-study dollars. The University estimates that as many as 50 new students may receive trustee scholarships this fall. As long as the students remain in good academic standing and their financial circumstances remain unchanged, the scholarships will continue throughout their four undergraduate years.
  • In addition, it is expected that four-year, loan-free packages will be awarded to 30 to 35 new Philadelphia Mayor's Scholars, who will join more than 90 continuing Mayor's Scholars this fall. Penn's grants to first-year Trustee Scholars and first-year Mayor's Scholars are expected to exceed $1.5 million in the 1998-99 academic year. The average per-student grant, from all sources, will exceed $27,000 for Trustee Scholars and Mayor's Scholars.
  • Penn will continue its careful case-by-case approach in evaluating the financial needs of its students. In many cases, as it has done during the past several years, Penn will disregard the equity a student's family has built up in its home beyond 2.5 times the family's annual income. The University understands that home equity can be disproportionate to a family's overall financial strength, particularly in cases of extraordinary home appreciation.
  • In calculating a student's financial need, Penn also will disregard a family's eligibility for the new federal Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning tuition tax credits, allowing students to receive the full, undiscounted value of the credits.

"We are convinced that the improvements announced today will keep Penn at the vanguard among private research universities, and we will continually review our financial aid program to ensure that it remains fully competitive with those of our peers," President Rodin said.