Duke’s new price tag: Nearly $60K per year

Feb. 22, 2013 @ 04:32 PM

It’s going to cost close to $60,000 to attend Duke University during the next academic year.

The university’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved a 3.9 percent increase in the total cost of attendance that will bring the annual bill for Duke students to $58,278 — around $2,200 more than the current year.

The rise endorsed by the trustees includes a 4 percent hike in undergraduate tuition to $44,020 a year, as well as increases in room and board and fees.

The increases, identical to the hikes the university enacted last year, are also in line with national trends. According to a survey by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, tuition and fees at the nation’s private schools rose by 3.9 percent last year.

And that’s actually good news.

The national association survey found that tuition and fees at the nation’s private schools are in fact rising at the lowest rate in at least four decades. And, for the fourth consecutive year, the percentage increases were below pre-recession rates. In the 10-year period before the 2008 beginning of the recession, average annual tuition rates rose by nearly 6 percent a year.

Duke is not alone in sporting a heavy sticker price. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that 123 institutions charged more than $50,000 for tuition, fees and room and board during the last academic year.

In fact, Duke only ranks 55th among the most expensive schools in the nation. The priciest place for higher education is Sarah Lawrence, a small, private liberal arts college in the New York City suburbs.

By contrast, UNC Chapel Hill, a public state university, charges $7,694 for a year’s tuition. The total cost of attendance at Carolina is $22,340 — about a third of the price at Duke.

To mitigate its cost, Duke has a need-blind admissions policy, under which the university accepts students without regard to their ability to pay and then meets 100 percent of their demonstrated financial need.

More than half of all Duke students receive some form of financial assistance from the university and 40 percent receive need-based financial aid, which includes grants, loans and work-study opportunities. The remainder are beneficiaries of honors, athletics and other scholarship programs.

Currently, Duke expects to spend about $127.9 million to support undergraduate financial aid, a 7 percent increase from the previous year, and a 28 percent increase since 2009-10.

Estimates for next year's financial aid costs will not be finalized until later in the year when financial aid packages for new and returning students are completed.

The trustees also set new tuition rates for Duke's graduate and professional schools in 2013-14, with increases ranging from 2 percent at the Sanford School of Public Policy to 4.9 percent at the School of Nursing.