University of Richmond students will pay 3.1 percent more in tuition, room and board for the 2009-10 school year, sending the overall cost climbing to $48,490 per year.

The increase was kept to the lowest in 40 years to minimize the impact on families facing economic challenges, according to a letter sent to students' permanent addresses on Feb. 6.

The university will provide about $18,000 per student in academic support to maintain educational quality, Ayers said. The $18,000 will cover costs students would incur with the drop in endowment from $1.7 billion to $1.45 billion. The tuition increase will cover the rest.

"We recognize that this is a hard year for many students and their families," said Lori Schuyler, Ayers' chief of staff. "At the same time, the university endowment has suffered along with national and international markets."

The concern that donors will not be able to give as much this year was central to decisions made about next year, Schuyler said.

The university's need-blind aid policy will not change, Ayers said. Need-blind aid means a student's aid is based on demonstrated need.

Students can find information about tuition and fees at controller.richmond.edu.

Contact staff writer Stephanie Rice at stephanie.rice@richmond.edu