Tuition-related frequently asked questions

Why does tuition continue to rise?

We work hard to keep tuition increases to a minimum. Some adjustment is necessary to reflect the increased cost of operating an institution like ours. Further, the additional resources help fulfill our mission of providing an exceptional educational experience.

What is the university doing to address affordability issues? 

Washington University places a high priority on meeting the financial needs of all of our students. Nearly half of our undergraduate student body receives some form of financial assistance (scholarships, grants and/or financial aid). In the past decade, the average aid award for students with need has increased from about $20,000 to $39,000. Under our “no-loan” program, the families of first-year undergraduate students with annual incomes of $75,000 or less receive full financial aid packages, without incurring any debt. To provide even more assistance, we are working toward a goal of raising an additional $400 million for scholarships and fellowships through our ongoing capital campaign.

What is the current status of the endowment?

The endowment at Washington University is created through gifts and only the earnings from the funds can be used to support the work of our faculty, our research, and the education of our students. In many cases, the use of endowment funds is restricted by guidelines as to how they can be used. The value of the university’s endowment as of June 30, 2016, was $6.5 billion.

Given the size of the university’s endowment, why are tuition dollars important?

While the university and its students benefit greatly from the generosity of our donors and the income from our endowment, tuition revenue remains the university’s largest unrestricted revenue stream. It is what allows us to attract the best and brightest students and faculty, maintain the quality of our academic programs and facilities, and continue our rich tradition of excellence.

How is the university reducing costs?

In 2013, the university launched an efficiency initiative looking for ways to reduce costs and improve output across our campuses. We’re pleased to announce we’ve met our initial savings goal, and the effort has resulted in $20 million of annual, ongoing operational savings. These savings — in facilities operations, procurement, research administration and support services — represent true efficiencies and have helped us become a leaner, better-run organization. The university will continue to seek ways to work efficiently and ensure resources are directed toward fulfilling our mission.

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