Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, May 27, 2018

SG: AU should marginally raise tuition

SG comptroller: Tuition freeze "hurts student interests," is not "achievable"

Student Government is advocating for a tuition increase to cover necessary University costs.

SG also endorsed raising the proportion of tuition that is spent on financial aid and asked for more budget transparency, according to their report on the University budget released this morning.

Students currently pay 81 percent of AU’s budget, according to the University Budget. The rest of the revenue comes from housing and dining fees and donations.

The SG Commission on University Budget Policy, which consists of six SG members, released the report this morning in preparation for the town hall with the Board of Trustees and President Neil Kerwin on Nov. 15 at 5:30 p.m. in Ward 1.

SG President Emily Yu, Comptroller Joe Ste.Marie, former Comptroller Eric Reath, Co-Directors of the University Budget Policy David Horowitz and Tiana Lane, and Class of 2015 Sen. Patrick Kelly sit on the Commission.

Marginal tuition increases

SG chose not to advocate for a tuition freeze because of the financial challenges it may bring to the University, Ste.Marie said.

“We are not advocating for fixed tuition because we think it hurts student interests and we don’t think it’s achievable,” Ste. Marie said.

If the University does not raise tuition during this budget cycle, it could force the University to raise tuition even higher in the next budget cycle to recoup losses. The University could also face millions of dollars in cuts if there is no tuition increase, Ste.Marie said.

SG believes that cutting administration salaries would not replace a tuition increase because the administration salaries are not worth enough to cover the amount needed to cover University costs, Ste. Marie said.

“[Administration] are paid less than 1 percent of the budget,” Reath said.

Professor salaries would also have to be cut in order to meet the amount needed for a tuition freeze, Ste.Marie said

SG: Higher discount rate will benefit students

Currently, for every dollar paid toward tuition 29 cents goes to financial aid, Yu said. Ste.Marie said SG would like to see that proportion, called the tuition discount rate, raised to 30 percent.

SG said in the report that a low discount rate is bad for students, because the higher the discount rate the larger the pool of available financial aid.

A higher tuition discount rate could also result in a larger tuition increase, but the amount of financial aid would also increase, Ste.Marie said.

The University recently switched 10 percent of its financial aid from merit-based to need-based aid, The Eagle previously reported.

With more money for financial aid, both need-based and merit-based scholarships would increase, Reath said.

Students’ rights to know

SG’s final point calls for more transparency on the budget.

SG believes more attention is needed to explain where student money goes in the budget, but it does not believe a list of every purchase is needed, Ste.Marie said.

“More transparency on personnel costs, financial aid, and more detailed unit budgets,” according to the report, “would allow students to better understand how their tuition dollars are being spent.”

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