High cost of higher education

Southern Methodist University students pony up 15th most money for college in U.S., report says

SMU students pony up 15th most money for college in U.S., report says

Southern Methodist University
Frolicking at this fountain will cost you. SMU/Facebook

Dallas' Southern Methodist University has earned a distinction that no college or university likely would covet. It’s the most expensive college or university in Texas and one of the priciest in the country, according to a new study from The Business Journals.

SMU lands at No. 15 nationally in the study, with a total price of attendance pegged at $79,050 for the 2020-21 academic year, up 41 percent from 10 years ago.

No other private school in Texas — not Texas Christian University, not Rice University, not Baylor University — shows up in the study’s top 25. With a total price of attendance calculated at $81,531, the University of Chicago holds the No. 1 spot in the ranking.

The Business Journals analyzed data recently collected by the U.S. Department of Education to determine that 123 U.S. colleges and universities now boast “sticker prices” over $70,000. Of the 25 most expensive schools, ranked by the total cost of attendance for the most recent academic year, sticker prices grew an average of 37 percent over the past decade.

The total cost of attendance, or sticker price, is defined as the cost before financial aid, grants, and scholarships are applied. It includes tuition, on-campus room and board, books, transportation, and other expenses.

Representatives of SMU, with an enrollment of more than 6,700 at its University Park campus, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Generally, schools in SMU’s league emphasize the availability of financial assistance when they’re asked about the sky-high cost of attendance, according to The Business Journals. Niche.com, a school rating and review website, says more than 80 percent of SMU students receive financial aid. Nine percent of SMU students get Pell Grants, which are federal subsidies for low-income Americans.

In 2015, SMU’s The Daily Campus student newspaper questioned why tuition at fees at their school exceeded those of the Ivy League’s prestigious Princeton University. For the 2019-20 academic year, SMU’s undergraduate tuition and fees totaled $56,560, compared with $52,800 at Princeton.

Chris Regis, SMU’s chief business and financial officer, told The Daily Campus six years ago that the university “believes in funding attractive financial packages for our students,” including scholarships and grants. He stressed the many on-campus and post-graduation opportunities afforded to SMU students.

“I think you will agree that attending SMU is well worth the price,” Regis told a writer for the student newspaper.