George Washington University, the most expensive major university in the United States, today announced that new students will pay more than $50,000 for tuition, fees, room and board in the fall.

"To the best of my knowledge, we're the first university" in the United States to top the $50,000 mark, spokesman Matt Lindsay said.

George Washington's board of trustees voted today to hike tuition to $39,210, a 3.8 percent increase over this year, for new students enrolling in September.

Other fees, including housing and food, will bring the total cost of attending the Foggy Bottom school to $50,660 during the 2007-2008 academic year, Lindsay said.

"There's not one reason why the costs are so high," he said. "But our location is one reason. Being in Washington, we pay faculty more than if we were a state college in, say, Pennsylvania."

The good news for new students, Lindsay said, is a fixed-tuition program that guarantees annual tuition will not rise for up to five years. And 62 percent of undergraduate students receive financial aid, he said. The average award this year is $19,888.

George Washington said it expects to offer $118 million in financial aid next year, a 4.7 percent increase from this year.