The university’s financial-​​aid invest­ment next year is the largest in its his­tory, while the tuition increase is the lowest in more than 30 years. Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity announced its lowest tuition increase in more than 30 years and its largest-​​ever invest­ment in finan­cial aid for the 2012–2013 aca­d­emic year. The new fig­ures con­tinue a trend by the uni­ver­sity of increasing financial-​​aid spending at twice the rate of tuition increases.

Tuition for the 2012–2013 aca­d­emic year will be $39,320 — a 3.9 per­cent increase. How­ever, when the unprece­dented level of finan­cial aid is fac­tored in, the “net increase” in tuition, on average, will be 2.7 per­cent. Next year, the uni­ver­sity will invest more than $188 mil­lion in finan­cial aid to under­grad­u­ates — the highest in North­eastern his­tory. These funds do not include gov­ern­ment grants or loans.

North­eastern con­tinues to attract top stu­dents from around the world who are drawn to the unique value of our experiential-​​learning model,” said Jane Brown, Northeastern’s vice pres­i­dent for enroll­ment man­age­ment. “This year, we set a record for the number of appli­cants seeking admis­sion for the fall of 2012. We will con­tinue to work closely with fam­i­lies to make a North­eastern edu­ca­tion afford­able. In addi­tion to a sub­stan­tial com­mit­ment to finan­cial aid, we help fam­i­lies develop a finan­cial plan to max­i­mize all resources avail­able to them.”

North­eastern also announced a new pro­gram through which stu­dents who receive need-​​based North­eastern grant assis­tance will be guar­an­teed a cor­re­sponding increase in aid with all future tuition increases. This ini­tia­tive is an expan­sion of the “North­eastern Promise,” an existing pro­gram that guar­an­tees eight semes­ters of con­sis­tent grant funding to under­grad­uate stu­dents, as well as a reeval­u­a­tion of funding if a stu­dent or family encoun­ters a major finan­cial hardship.

North­eastern received 44,212 appli­cants for 2,800 seats in the fall freshman class — the most in the university’s his­tory. The quality of the appli­cant pool is also stronger than ever. The number of appli­cants with SAT scores above 1400 has dou­bled since five years ago. More than one-​​quarter of the appli­cant pool has a high school GPA of 4.0 or higher.

A recent North­eastern survey of college-​​bound high-​​school stu­dents under­scored the desir­ability of Northeastern’s edu­ca­tional model. Stu­dents ranked “the com­bi­na­tion of rig­orous course­work with real-​​world research and work expe­ri­ence” as the most desired attribute of a col­lege edu­ca­tion. They also expressed a strong interest in global expe­ri­en­tial learning and the oppor­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate with fac­ulty mem­bers on research.