Although the University’s endowment now sits around $488 million, next year’s tuition increase will be substantially lower than originally proposed. During the Board of Trustees retreat this past weekend, the Finance Committee voted that tuition, room and board pricing for next year would increase by 3.8 percent, down from the 5.9 percent increase first proposed in December. For 2009-2010, freshmen and sophomores will pay a comprehensive fee of $51,132; juniors and seniors will pay a comprehensive fee of $52,640.
According to the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Report from the February Board of Trustees Retreat, this decision was based largely on similar actions taken by the University’s peer institutions, in addition to the fact that inflation is zero percent for this year.
“We are trying hard to limit expenditures,” said John Meerts in an e-mail to The Argus. “However, we also realize that families are going through tough times, as well, and that is one of the reasons we limited the tuition increase to 3.8 percent. This will be our lowest increase in many years and will generate less revenue than what we had anticipated in our long-range financial plan.”
According to WSA President Mike Pernick ’10, the University spent considerable time looking for other ways of cutting costs in an effort to decrease tuition. After the Board agreed to move the proposed tuition hike down to 4.9 percent, additional revenue saving methods were discussed and the proposal further decreased to 3.8 percent.
“I think [the 3.8 percent increase] is good for the University,” Pernick said. “As it stands, students on full financial aid would not have been affected by the proposed increase, as with the very wealthy. The students most affected by a tuition increase are the middle class, and they’re also being squeezed the most by the financial crisis. So lowering tuition brings great benefits.”
According to Pernick, the 3.8 percent tuition increase is equal, if not lower, than the tuition increases at peer institutions. With the current proposal, therefore, the University will remain financially competitive with its peers in recruiting students for next year’s class.
“We don’t want to be significantly more expensive than our peers,” Pernick said. “If we’re more expensive, students will go elsewhere.”
While it may be a small percentage, the tuition increase will nevertheless generate much needed revenue for the University.
“In these economic circumstances and with the decline we have experienced in the endowment and, therefore, the decline in endowment support for the budget, the University needs every dollar we can find, either on the revenue side or by limiting expenditures,” Meerts said.