President Thomas Jackson announced an 8.1 percent tuition increase of $2,290 for the 2005-06 academic year on Monday.

With the inclusion of housing and the most popular meal plan – 230 Club Meal Plan – a student’s term bill will see an overall increase of 6.9 percent, totaling just over $40,000.

“After a lot of discussion and a general sense that our tuition level was running below that of peer institutions, we decided to try to get to a midpoint [among] peer institutions [regarding tuition],” Jackson said.

The tuition hike is the largest raise since 1990-91, when tuition increased by 8.5 percent.

The last time UR saw a tuition increase greater than six percent was for the 1991-92 academic year.

“We were really aware that this is higher than it’s been in past years and as a prediction is higher than it’s likely to be in future years,” Jackson said. “It was done strategically anddeliberately to renormalize our tuition with those of peer institutions.”

Boston College, one of three institutions currently tied with UR at 37 in the U.S. News and World report rankings, announced a 6.6 percent tuition increase for next year, with the term bill totaling $42,268. New York University, ranked 32 in the same rankings, will see a 5.6 percent tuition increase and students will see a total term bill of about $41,595.

While the tuition increase is high, the overall bill increase of 6.9 percent is just over last year’s national average of six percent, according to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2004 report.

“The room increase is pretty typical, but the board increase is lower than it has been in past years,” Vice President for Administration and Finance, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Ronald J. Paprocki said. “Meal plans are going up about 2.7 percent – roomis going up by 4.1 percent.”

Due to the impact the increase will have on current students, financial aid has been increased, as well.

“We’ve spent our time and efforts to focus on the students who are here and explaining why we’re doing this and making sure we have the financial aid resources available to help them,” Jackson said.

“We’re also very concerned about making sure The College is affordable for everyone,” Paprocki said. “We have allocated additional financial aid to make sure The Collegeis affordable.”

Jackson noted self-investment as a reason for the increase.”We’ve been doing extraordinary building of the undergraduate program here,” he said. “It’s been an amazing rebuilding and investment [progression] for our programs.” Continuing, he said, “We’ve been doing that largely with endowment resources. It is my sense, and I think the trustees’ sense and I believe The College’s sense as well, that it’s time to put down a firm foundation.”Dean of The College Faculty Thomas LeBlanc cited faculty as an important component of the current program.”Faculty get offers from multiple places and they compare those,” he said. “If you don’t have the resources to compete, then you don’t hire the best faculty and you don’tkeep the ones you have.” Jackson emphasizes that the larger-than-average increase is tohelp push UR forward.”The current goal now is to stabilize the future of the institution using all of the various sources on which we built the program and the three major ones would be the endowment, development activities and tuition,” he said.In this regard, some students are not surprised about the jump. “I wasn’t too surprised when I got the letter – it went up last year, too,” sophomore Nora Kelley said. “[6.9 percent] seemed like a lot, but I wasn’t aware at first that tuition went up so much by itself.”A more gradual tuition increase was given consideration, but decided against in the end.”We did model a lot of different ways of getting to this resolve, but the consensus was if you know where you’re going, you might as well get there,” Jackson said. However, some students are not as accepting. “I thought the increase was a little too much,” sophomore Roon Lee said. “Although the letter explained the decisions to raise it, I think they should definitely improve something with it that we can see.”Students are wondering what they are getting in return for their money. “I think it’s somewhat outrageous that tuition in general is going up a lot quicker than the economy,” freshman Michael Freeman said.Inflation of energy costs has traditionally been linked to steady tuition increases. “Imbedded in this increase is an increase in cost, inflationary increases and so forth.For example, energy costs have been a major factor,” Paprocki said. “We have to do everything we can in those areas that don’t affect academic quality and student satisfaction to make sure that we’re operating efficiently.”The Cogeneration project is one example of the university’s efforts to decrease utility costs.While operating costs are factored into most schools’ tuition raises, this raise is different than past years.”Tuition increases of any sort are driven by overall costs but we recognize that what we did this year is going to be higher than what you’re going to see [at other institutions,]” Jackson said.”This tuition increase isn’t driven by unusual costs,” he said. “It’s rather a longer term, systematic move to ensure that the investments that we’ve been making in the past to improve The College can be sustained in the future.”Some students are nervous that this will negatively affect the incoming freshman class.”Next year’s freshmen will have to pay for it,” sophomore Marianna Kuttothara said.Others are nervous that it will lower the competitiveness of the school. “If it’s a lot higher than a lot of schools, kids aren’t going to want to come here,” sophomore Maya Gurme said.”Students who are looking at coming here are going to see a tuition that looks similar to other institutions,” Jackson said. Jackson believes that this year’s tuition raise is not likely to repeat in the near future. “This [doesn’t predict] next year’s tuition,” Jackson said. “This is an effort in one year to put us in the pack with where we believe comparable institutions are. I can’t predict the future, but this is not likely to be repeated.”

Borchardt can be reached at jborchardt@campustimes.org.



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