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Penn's total charges will be the third lowest in the Ivy League, behind Yale and Princeton. The University Board of Trustees approved a 3.4 percent increase in total student charges for the academic year yesterday, pushing the cost of a Penn education up to $32,996 from $31,902. The increase is Penn's lowest in more than 30 years. At an Executive Committee Meeting yesterday, the Trustees approved a 3.9 percent increase in undergraduate tuition, raising rates from $24,230 to $25,170. In addition, room and board costs will rise two percent, from $7,672 to $7,826. "We're so committed to try and limit the rate of increase," University President Judith Rodin said. The increase in total charges was 3.7 percent last year and 3.9 percent the year before. Rodin added that the University has done everything possible to "create all the opportunity for the best and brightest [to come to Penn]." Penn's increase is on the low end in the Ivy League, with other undergraduate charge increases ranging from 2.9 percent at Harvard and Yale universities to 4.6 percent at Cornell University. And Penn could almost be called a bargain, at least relatively -- its total charges are the third lowest in the Ivy League. Rates will be slightly lower only at Yale and Princeton University, at $32,880 and $32,681, respectively. Columbia University is the only Ivy that has not yet announced next year's charges. University Budget Director Mike Masch explained that Penn is committed to keeping expenses down and not raising tuition more than necessary. He explained that much of the tuition money goes toward a wide range of academic programming. Initiatives in the Penn Humanities Forum and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, coupled with the construction of new buildings on campus, contribute to rising costs, he said. Masch added that Penn's greatest expense is personnel. "We pride ourselves on having a really outstanding faculty," he said. "We want to retain our faculty? so salaries have to be competitive." But the increases are necessary if the University is to "remain at the cutting-edge of creating new knowledge," Masch said. Another top priority for the University is continuing to make a Penn education affordable for all qualified students. According to Rodin, the support of the Trustees will enable the University to maintain its need-blind admissions policy and continue to provide financial assistance to those students who demonstrate need. She said in a statement yesterday that she expects the University's undergraduate, need-based grant budget for the 2000-01 academic year to exceed the $54 million budgeted. Penn has had difficulty competing in recent years with the financial aid offerings of other schools, such as Princeton and Yale, who offer predominantly grant-based aid because they fund financial aid almost entirely from their endowments. But Penn has a much smaller endowment per student ratio than other schools and has been unable to take similar steps. Still, more than 40 percent of undergraduates received grant support from the University last year. "We have had and continue to have one of the most creative, and flexible and extensive financial aid programs of the top research universities in the United States," Masch said. Rodin added that she and the Trustees are committed to the University's campaign to raise $200 million to enhance its endowment for undergraduate financial aid. Over $100 million has already been raised. Penn's per-capita endowment is the lowest in the Ivy League, making it difficult for the University to match financial aid packages offered by other schools.

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