Tuition Frequently Asked Questions

The following Frequently Asked Questions about tuition and the financial resources of Washington University in St. Louis was enclosed in a letter Provost Edward S. Macias, PhD, sent Jan. 17, 2013, to parents and students announcing the 2013-14 tuition, room, board and fees.

Why does tuition continue to rise?

Even as we control expenses in some areas, we can never allow the university to lose its position of strength and high standards that you and your sons and daughters have come to expect. The university is committed to continuing that trajectory of excellence and improvement, both for our current students and for those who will study and live here in the years and generations to come. We must continue to provide a world-class university experience inside and outside the classroom in a wide variety of ways, including improving library services; maintaining small class sizes and quality of instruction; renovating older buildings and classrooms for both energy efficiency and technology enhancements; sustaining our excellent student housing and dining experiences; and investing in the neighborhoods surrounding our campuses to make them more safe.

How important is providing financial aid to students who need it?

The university has continued to place the highest priority on meeting the financial needs of our students, and we have once again increased the amount of financial aid. Three years ago, the university announced a major scholarship initiative called “Opening Doors to the Future,” with a goal of raising more than $150 million for scholarships. To date, thanks to the generosity of alumni, parents and other supporters, we have raised approximately $188 million. Since the university instituted a “no loans” policy for students from families that have under $60,000 in family income, average need-based aid is up 42 percent.

How is the university cutting costs?

The university has continued to tighten its budgets and seek efficiencies and new ways of saving resources. Schools and administrative units have been diligent in cutting and containing costs. Salary raises have been kept to a minimum for several years, and other cost- and energy-saving measures have continued and been enhanced.

Given the size of your endowment, how important are tuition dollars?

While the university and its students benefit greatly from the generosity of our donors and the income from our endowment, revenue from the tuition you pay is the university’s largest unrestricted revenue stream. It is what allows us to maintain the quality of our faculty, facilities and students.

What is the current status of the endowment?

Although the university has seen improvement in its endowment over the past several years, its value as of June 30, 2012, was $5.3 billion, still below its value from just a few years ago. We continue to be prudent stewards of this important asset and its potential to fund important future initiatives.