Georgetown’s Board of Directors voted to raise full-time undergraduate tuition by 6.2 percent yesterday to $31,656, bringing the total cost of attendance, including room, board and fees, to nearly $45,000 for the 2005-06 academic year.

The board also voted to increase room and board costs by approximately 5 percent, to $10,124. Graduate students will face a 7 percent tuition hike, raising tuition to $29,455.

Provost James J. O’Donnell said that the tuition increase was necessary to continue providing important student services.

“A 6.2 percent tuition increase supports a budget that allows us to make faculty salaries more competitive, to offer financial aid so that Georgetown is accessible to all students and to provide campus facilities that give our faculty and students the space and opportunity in which to achieve ambitiously,” O’Donnell said.

Georgetown administrators said the decision to raise tuition was based on a need for higher faculty salaries, new facilities, campus technology improvements and new library materials. They have also cited rising employee health care costs, utility fees, rent expenses and insurance costs as contributing to the rise in tuition.

Administrators said that the decision to raise the cost of attendance would not impact Georgetown’s commitment to meet the full financial need of its students.

“We are committed to meeting the full needs of all undergraduates,” Patricia McWade, dean of student financial services, said. “The tuition increase will have no negative impact.”

The proposed increase, although among the university’s highest in the past several years, is less than last year’s 7 percent increase. That increase had brought the total cost of attendance to over $42,000.

Last year’s decision to raise tuition marked the fourth year in a row main campus tuition increased at or above the national average for private universities, according to a report from the College Board.

The College Board report, “Trends in College Pricing”, shows Georgetown’s tuition hikes to be roughly consistent with tuition increases at other four-year private universities, although Georgetown’s tuition has remained higher than average. Georgetown has increased tuition by 29.1 percent from the 2000-01 to 2004-05 academic years, while average tuition at other private universities rose 23.7 percent during the same period, according to the report.

The Board of Directors also considered a plan to revitalize Georgetown’s financial situation, proposing a series of budgetary changes during its two-day session that would eliminate the Medical Center’s annual deficit by fiscal year 2007.

University spokeswoman Julie Bataille said the board meeting focused on approving Georgetown’s financial plan and budget for the next fiscal year. The board also approved major plans to restructure the Medical Center, in an attempt to staunch its heavy fiscal losses.

The Medical Center released a statement last night indicating its new plans to increase the center’s net financial margin by $13.5 million by fiscal year 2007.

The plans call for the center to be restructured into four “operational units,” within which new cost-cutting and revenue-generating initiatives would take place.

“This plan improves our net margin, and the reorganization component of the plan also positions Georgetown University Medical Center to better take advantage of the emerging opportunities in the world of biomedical research,” Stuart Bondurant, interim vice president for health sciences, said in the statement.

Georgetown has struggled with financial difficulties over the past several years. Faced with rising employee benefits, particularly health care costs and bound by an enrollment cap imposed by the District of Columbia Zoning Commission, administrators have complained that they have had no other choice but to raise fees on current students.

The financial losses of Georgetown’s Medical Center have been a particularly difficult problem for the university as it attempts to bring its budget into balance. The Medical Center has run a continual deficit since 1995 – losing a total of $335 million – and its management practices have faced criticism from administrators and researchers in the past.

Under a five-year-old plan, Georgetown is also committed to raising ordinary faculty salaries by 2.25 percent above inflation each year, and the university has been required to spend more funds in recent years to meet students’ financial aid needs as federal student aid has dwindled, administrators said.

Students had a mixed reaction to the board’s decision to raise tuition rates.

“I feel that the increase in tuition is outrageous,” Arthur Winer (COL ’07) said. “Georgetown is already one of the most expensive schools in the country, and for students who are on a budget to be expected to pay five thousand dollars more is totally unacceptable.”

Phil Lacovera (SFS ’07), however, said that he could be receptive to a tuition increase, if the new funds were spent responsibly.

“I don’t like any increase in tuition,” he said. “But if I can at least see the results of a tuition raise, it’ll make it more palatable.”

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