AU’s board of trustees unanimously passed the university’s budget for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 Friday, which included a tuition increase of 5 percent over each of the two years, according to Vice President of Finance and Treasurer Don Myers.
AU is currently financially stable, despite the economic crisis, according to Myers. Applications, enrollment and other indicators have all been on track, he said.
|TUITION COSTS: 2008-2009 $32,816 2009-2010 +$1,641 = $34,457 2010-2011 +$1,723 = $36,180 ROOM COSTS: 2008-2009 $8,258 2009-2010 + $372 = $8,630 2010-2011 + $388 = $9,018 (All figures rounded to the nearest dollar. Tuition costs reflect a 5 percent increase while room costs reflect a 4.5 percent increase.) SOURCE: Information on AU’s Web site|
The condition of the economy played a major part in the university’s budget planning process, according to Myers. Several levels of contingency and budget safeguards mean the university is in excellent shape compared to other universities, according to Provost Scott Bass.
“The board’s action today really allows us to say to the current students and to prospective students, that not only are we stable as an institution financially and in terms of our program, but we are going to be able to build over the next several years, starting today,” he said.
The budget planning process began during the fall semester and concluded at Friday’s board meeting.
Along with the tuition increase, residence hall prices will increase 4.5 percent in each of the coming two years, according to Myers.
AU’s tuition in the next two years will rank 40th among 67 other schools with similar enrollments and programs, he said.
“We’re at the mid-range of where we would like to be,” Myers said.
Financial aid is set as a percentage of tuition and will therefore also be increasing by approximately 6.8 percent at the undergraduate level, according to Bass. The budget also allows for an increase in AU students who are eligible for financial aid through the Pell Grant program.
“We’re quite optimistic about our ability to meet the financial needs of the incoming class and current students as well,” he said.
As an enrollment-dependent institution, AU has several levels of contingency plans that would keep the school financially stable in the event of low enrollment, according to Myers.
These plans include a quasi-endowment, which acts as a rainy-day fund, according to Bass. Money is set aside to pre-fund salary increases and facility renewals.
“Those kinds of expenses, which are wise to set aside, are available,” he said. “If push comes to shove, you have some flexibility.”
Currently, there is an additional account in the event of tuition problems. It contains about $8 million, but the administration is confident that it can add an additional $4 million this year, Bass said.
Board of Trustees Chairman Gary Abramson said good planning on the part of the university administration helped make the budget process easier. There was neither dissention nor disagreement among the board prior to the budget’s passage, he said.
“I think it was all the background work that made it easier today,” Abramson said.
The strategic plan played a large part in determining the two-year budget, according to Abramson.
“We’re trying to make sure that everything we’re doing is according to the strategic plan and helping to implement it,” he said.
Since the endowment is such a small part of the operating budget - less than one percent - the university is in far better shape than other institutions with larger endowments, Myers said.
“It would be a long, long pathway to get to where most of the universities all begin, and that’s because of the way the budget is built,” Bass said.
The 2010-2011 budget will be available for the campus community by the end of the week, according to Myers.