Tuition will increase 2.95 percent next year

Board of Trustees approves lowest tuition increase in 40 years

AU's tuition will increase by 2.95 percent for the fiscal years 2014 and 2015, according to Board of Trustees Chairman Jeffrey Sine.

The Board considered freezing tuition increases, a request made by the Coalition of AU Students (CAUS) throughout the budget process, but decided that it would not have been financially feasible, Sine said. An increase lower than 2.95 percent could have caused academic programs to fail, Provost Scott Bass said.

"It would have been too large of a cost to pay," Sine said.

Tuition and fees, together, will increase by 2.9 percent, the lowest increase in 40 years, according to Sine.

The tuition and fee increases will help pay for necessary costs, including technology, library costs and healthcare, Bass said.

"This budget was a challenge to take all of those things and add over an additional $1 million to financial aid and come out balanced," Bass said.

Housing and Dining fees, tuition discount rate go up

Residence hall fees will increase by 1.5 percent for double rooms and 2.5 percent for triple and single rooms, according to University CFO Don Myers.

Meal plan fees will increase by 2.2 percent, he said.

The tuition discount rate, the proportion of tuition that is used for financial aid, will increase by 1 percent to 30 percent. This results in a $1.46 million increase to financial aid, according to a Feb. 22 memorandum from Sine.

Student input influenced the Board's decision, AU President Neil Kerwin said.

Kerwin could not predict how the tuition and fees increase would have been different if students did not speak during this budget cycle, but the financial aid decisions reflected student input, he said.

AU eyes donations for additional funding

The Board will continue to focus on increasing financial aid and will look to use philanthropy in addition to the money from the tuition dollars, Sine said.

Philanthropic gifts were not included in financial aid calculations in previous budget cycles, Sine said in the memo.

"In the future, they will be, and we expect funds for aid from philanthropy to be an important area of growth," he said in the memo.

In order to lower the tuition and fees increase to 2.9 percent, the Board of Trustees chose to invest 1 percent toward the quasi-endowment, instead of 2 percent as they had done in the previous fiscal years 2012 and 2013, President Neil Kerwin said.

The quasi-endowment is a pool of funds set aside from the budget for long-term use.

The decrease in money for long-term investment means that the University has to balance the more immediate interests of students and future interests of the University, Kerwin said.

"We've reduced the amount of support given to long-term investment and the endowment and we will need to increase philanthropy to make up for that," Sine said.

Sine said he will focus on philanthropy as a way to bring money into the University to be able to support the lower tuition increase and increased financial aid.

A detailed summary of the budget will be released in the upcoming weeks, Myers said.

"I believe we have accommodated and accomplished a great deal," Bass said.

hmongilio@theeagleonline.com

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle