In a world where higher education tuition costs continue to climb every year, one respected institution is not only attempting to slow the rising costs but also expand its financial aid budget.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known as simply MIT, raised its costs by only 3% for the upcoming 2017-2018 academic year. This is the smallest increase at the school since 1970, and MIT is offsetting that increase by also increasing its financial aid budget from its 2000 allocation of only $30.5 million and past even the 2016-2017 allocation of $114 million. As a result, an individual student at MIT will only see a total average of 0.7% higher cost than they would have paid in 2000.
MIT chancellor Cynthia Barnhart stated that the financial aid bump offers “critical support” for students and their families, and makes the world-class education from MIT “more affordable and accessible” to those looking to attend.
In addition to the changes to financial aid and tuition costs, MIT’s ‘self-help’ costs will also decrease from $5500 to $3400, meaning that students receiving financial aid will be expected to contribute less through borrowing loans and work study programs.
All changes combined result in the average MIT scholarship increasing to $45,943; since one-third of MIT students already receive financial aid, this will allow existing aid students to focus more on their studies and less on trying to pay their tuition bill—and will give other students an opportunity to attend the prestigious school.
Students who come from families making $80,000 or less each year are given a guarantee that the total amount of financial aid scholarships ensure their attendance is tuition-free, opening the door for more middle-class families to send their kids to MIT. The school also offers a Pell Grant Matching Program, which allows students to graduate with little to no student loan debt; in fact, in 2016 almost two-thirds of MIT students did graduate with no student loan debt. The rigorous technical curriculum also prepares students for careers in high-paying, constantly-hiring fields like engineering and the sciences, setting students up for both academic success while at school and employment success after graduation.
When stacked against peer institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and other Ivy League schools, MIT’s tuition of $46,704 was slightly less than Yale, but a bit more expensive than Princeton. The financial aid programs and yearly increases, however, put MIT much closer to the top of the list in terms of affordability and accessibility while still holding to the level of national and even global competitiveness that the school is known for.
While MIT’s programs for decreasing student loan debt are highly effective, it remains to be seen whether other schools will take up their example and design programs to minimize graduates’ debt before releasing them into the job market. Certainly, student loan debt is not the responsibility of the school, but MIT has shown that it is possible for a school to be competitive while still ensuring that its students are not starting from a financial hole.