Trustees Increase Financial Aid, Set Tuition, Approve Budget

News subtitle

Board members approved funds to plan for renewal of undergraduate student residences.

Dartmouth Hall clock tower

At their spring meeting, members of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees reviewed and approved operating and capital budgets, established a record-setting increase in undergraduate financial aid, and set next year’s tuition and fees. They also advanced critical building projects and received updates on important initiatives.

The board met at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., where they engaged in wide-ranging conversations with a diverse group of Stanford leaders including trustees, the former and current presidents, the provost, faculty in leadership positions, and representatives from departments across campus.

“Stanford was incredibly generous to host the Dartmouth board for a series of energizing and informative meetings,” said Board Chair Laurel Richie ’81. “We appreciated the opportunity to learn how our counterparts are approaching a common set of challenges while at the same time reflecting on what distinguishes the Dartmouth educational experience and how we can sharpen that distinctiveness.”  

The meetings explored critical topics, highlighted opportunities for possible future collaboration, and expanded shared thinking on approaches to issues and challenges facing residential higher education. Richie said the exchanges encouraged Dartmouth to consider future meetings with other institutions across the country. “Our board is always eager to share and expand our knowledge and fuel innovation,” she said.

Provost Joseph Helble updated Dartmouth trustees on College preparations for managing possible disruptions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. An emergency planning team has been meeting for the past month to monitor federal and state recommendations, implement guidelines, and communicate with the Dartmouth community.

“As the situation has intensified, our staff has begun meeting daily to synthesize the latest information, consult with experts, analyze risk, and prepare for possible disruptions,” said Helble. Dartmouth expects to announce a decision this week regarding the feasibility of spring term off-campus programs.

Record $120 Million in Financial Aid, Tuition Rates Approved

For the 2021 fiscal year, which begins July 1, Dartmouth has budgeted an unprecedented $120 million in undergraduate financial aid, a 6% increase over the current year. Trustees approved a 3.9% increase in undergraduate tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board for the next academic year. The increase is consistent with the 2019-20 rate increase. Undergraduate tuition will be $57,796, an increase of $2,191 over the current year’s tuition rate. Total tuition, room, board, and mandatory fees next year will be $76,480.

The tuition rates apply to all undergraduates and to students at the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies and Thayer School of Engineering. (Thayer offers both undergraduate and graduate programs.) Tuition at the Tuck School of Business will increase 3.2%, to $77,520, and tuition for the MD degree at the Geisel School of Medicine will increase 3% to $67,532.

In increasing undergraduate financial aid, board members affirmed the importance of affordability and access for all students through the continuation of Dartmouth’s generous financial aid program, noting that:

  • The expansion of financial aid exceeds the growth of tuition for the fourth consecutive year.
  • The average scholarship awarded to students receiving financial aid in the Class of 2023 is more than $53,000.
  •  Free tuition is provided for students from families with total incomes of $100,000 or less who possess typical assets. In the Class of 2023, 223 students are benefitting from this initiative.
  • More than 20 percent of the Class of 2023 are lower-income students, with the majority of U.S. citizens in this group qualifying for federal Pell grants. 
  • At a time when students and families are increasingly concerned about the cost of a college education, Dartmouth continues to be recognized for the exceptional value it offers and for the low debt load carried by graduates. In its 2020 rankings, U.S. News & World Report rated Dartmouth No. 9 nationally in its “Best Value Schools” category.

“Our robust financial aid program ensures that the most talented and promising students can experience the transformative impact of a Dartmouth education,” President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 said at the meeting. “Dartmouth is constantly working to strengthen accessibility for all students, including those from middle-income families, which is why the elimination of student loans is one of our strongest priorities.”

Trustees approved a 2021 fiscal year expense budget of $1.13 billion and a capital budget of $48.7 million to fund a number of building, construction, renovation, and renewal projects at various stages of planning, design, or construction. The projects include renovation of Thornton Hall; planning and design of the Dartmouth Hall renovation; planning for  proposed projects with private developers, including graduate housing and energy infrastructure; and information technology security systems and network upgrades.

The board also approved an estimated distribution from the endowment for the next fiscal year of $289 million for operating and non-operating activities, a 5.8% increase over the current year. The distribution represents approximately 4.9% of the endowment value as of Dec. 31, 2019. The endowment distribution will fund approximately 25% of the operating budget.

The trustees voted to allocate $3 million for planning and schematic design to explore the renovation and expansion of the Choates residence halls and the East Wheelock residential complex. The projects are part of a multi-year renewal effort to improve the student living experience, increase accessibility, support the house communities, and improve energy efficiency of the buildings.

Call to Lead Campaign Update

The board received a progress report on the $3 billion Call to Lead campaign, which close to 60% of alumni have supported. Commitments to date are $2.29 billion, 77% of the campaign goal since its launch in April 2018. Progress on key goals include expanding Dartmouth’s commitment to affordability, need-blind admission—with need met to international students, affirming no tuition for families making up to $100,000, and the elimination of loans to lighten the burden on middle-income families. The campaign has raised close to $200 million in scholarship funds—more than any prior campaign—and trustees affirmed their commitment to the $500 million goal by the end of the campaign.

Progress also includes recruitment of faculty in the interdisciplinary clusters, support for centers and institutes, expansion of the first-generation advising program, future renovations to the Hopkins Center for the Arts, and funding of close to 500,000 square feet in construction across campus to support innovative teaching and research spaces.

In an effort to support a culture of transparency and communication, the board also approved a new gift policy, which defines the principles by which philanthropic gifts will be accepted. The policy ensures that all gifts are in the best interest of Dartmouth and applies to all Dartmouth schools and programs.

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