PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Based on recommendations from a committee of faculty, staff, students and senior administrators, the Corporation of Brown University approved undergraduate, graduate and medical school tuition for 2023-24 and an employee salary pool for the University’s next fiscal year.
One year following the University’s lowest tuition increase in 11 years, tuition for Brown’s undergraduate education will increase 4.75% to $65,656. Tuition for most doctoral and master’s degree programs will increase 4.75%, and medical school tuition will increase 3%.
At the same time, a faculty and staff salary pool of 4% for Fiscal Year 2024 will mark the second highest increase in the last 12 years, positioning the University to effectively retain and recruit talented employees in a national labor market characterized by high voluntary staff turnover.
Brown’s governing body approved each measure on Saturday, Feb. 11, based on recommendations from the University Resources Committee (URC). The approval of tuition and fees and the employee salary pool marks the first step in formalizing Brown’s full FY24 operating budget. The URC will continue its work to recommend a full budget for review by the Corporation in May.
Larry Larson, current URC chair as part of his interim provost role at Brown, said the committee strives to keep tuition and fees increases as low as possible, even as those funds continue to provide the largest share of revenue for the University’s budget. The funds are instrumental in Brown’s ability to sustain investments in research, teaching, student support, financial aid and other priorities.
In recommending FY24 tuition and fees, the URC’s analysis included a review of trends, a benchmarking process and consideration of the major expansion in financial aid initiatives that Brown has implemented in recent years. A driving factor in the 4.75% increase ultimately approved was inflation — a 5.2% climb in expenses at U.S. colleges and universities in the last fiscal year marked the largest annual jump since 2001.
“A year ago, our tuition increase matched the lowest in many years as we built on exceptional endowment performance and recognized the economic impact that COVID-19 continued to have on families,” Larson said. “With the external financial landscape shifting, the approved 2023-24 increase will provide a significant boost in revenue to support research, teaching and strategic initiatives, while positioning us to expand on our commitment to attracting and supporting students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.”
The 4.75% tuition increase will be coupled with a significant increase in Brown’s financial aid budget, Larson noted. While the full budget presented to the Corporation in May will solidify financial aid resources across all groups of students, the undergraduate financial aid budget is projected to increase approximately $17 million, a 9% increase.
Undergraduate financial aid has long been among the fastest-growing elements in the annual budget, with the University introducing a growing array of financial support measures as part of its commitment to welcoming students from a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Brown meets 100% of each undergraduate’s demonstrated financial need; replaced loans with scholarships in University financial aid packages; eliminated consideration of home equity in considering families’ financial circumstances; and reduced summer earnings expectations for high-need students. Brown covers full tuition for families earning $125,000 or less with typical assets, while students from families making less than $60,000 a year with typical assets receive scholarships that cover all expenses — tuition, room, board, books and other expenses.
A number of modest fee increases will assist Brown departments in eliminating or reducing required fees for certain activities on campus. For example, a student recreation fee increase from $70 to $80 will enable Brown Athletics to eliminate direct charges for some group fitness and intramural sports participation. Separately, a $14 increase in the undergraduate student activities fee will enable additional free student activities, encouraging wider and more equitable participation.
Investing in employees
The Corporation approved an employee salary increase pool of 4% for FY24, continuing a trend of investments to strengthen Brown’s ability to recruit and retain talented faculty and staff in a shifting labor market. Funds from the pool are allocated by senior academic and administrative leaders to support annual performance-based salary increases for employees, equity adjustments, retention and promotions over the course of the fiscal year.
In recommending the high salary increase pool — which aside from a 4.25% pool in FY23, has more typically been in the range of 2.5% to 3.5% over the last decade — the URC considered factors ranging from recruitment and retention trends, labor markets impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, new employee opportunities for remote and hybrid work, and economic inflation across the nation.
“It remains essential that we sustain the University’s ability to compete for top talent and acknowledge the immense contributions of our dedicated employees in making Brown a world-class university,” Larson said. “This year’s salary pool for both faculty and staff is fiscally responsible while ensuring the University’s capacity to remain an employer of choice in Providence, the state of Rhode Island and the greater region.”
Additional detail on tuition and fees
The Corporation approved the following undergraduate tuition and fees for the 2023-24 academic year:
Standard room rate: $9,650
Standard board: $6,948
Undergraduate student resources fee: $1,004
Health services fee: $1,090
Student activities fee: $300
Student recreation fee: $80
Graduate tuition for most doctoral and on-campus master’s degree programs will increase by 4.75% to $8,207 per course. Given a shift in 2018 to market-based pricing for some master’s degrees, approximately a dozen of the University’s 33 master’s programs have tuition rates that vary from the standard — for most, tuition for 2023-24 will increase by 3.5%, with cost for a small number of programs remaining the same as for 2022-23.
Medical school tuition will increase by 3% to $69,286.