3/15/2010 Brodhead builds financial aid -- but he also creates the need for it.

✔Fact Checker here. Hope spring break was all you hoped it would be and more.

This is a very good column. And your calculation about the cost of Duke projected from official figures is hereby certified by Fact Checker to be correct.

Here's the problem. We hear President Brodhead extoll that the happen-stance of one's birth and socio-economic status must not become a new barrier to higher education, like race and gender once were. He has focused on need-blind admissions to let students who are not born into wealth squeak through Duke.

The problem with all that is: Brodhead himself and other administrators are the ones erecting the new barrier, letting costs go through the roof and tolerating tuition hikes year after year far in excess of inflation.

Before the financial meltdown robbed us of much of our endowment and gifts, did anyone ever hear the President address how we can control costs? In fact he pooh-poohed the idea, saying there would not be a market for a lower cost generic Duke.

It's essential that we look at both sides of the equation. Build financial aid, yes, but also cut costs to get this thing into better balance.

✔Since the Trustee announcement of a 3.9 percent hike in the cost of attending Duke next year (small point: the tuition component actually went up 4 percent) many Loyal Readers have challenged official figures showing that the cost of Duke next year will be $51,865, up from $49,895 at present. Source: press releases covering last year's and this year's increases.

Indeed, other official Duke figures contradict this low-ball calculation. The very same people who put out the press releases also post "Quick Facts about Duke" showing current costs -- excluding books, supplies and personal expenses -- are $50,245 this year, not $49,895.

I have also received meticulous documentation that I am still studying showing that the news releases are further contradicted by official calculations of financial aid packages.

In one instance, the current year's package -- taking out books and personal expenses to keep it consistent with the above -- is based on costs of $52,660. A far cry from the press release's $49,895.

Thank you everybody for sending along a wealth of material and tips about Duke!


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