With college tuitions rising nationwide, President Barack Obama toured University of New York campuses this summer to lay out a three-step plan to lower the cost of higher education, which is increasing at twice the rate of inflation.
At Carleton, this year’s comprehensive fee, which includes tuition, room, board, and other mandatory fees, is a 3.7 percent or $2,151 increase from last year. Nationwide, the tuition increase for the same time period is approximately 2.9 percent.
As Carleton’s comprehensive fee rises, financial aid rises at the same rate, so if enrollment increases so does the financial aid budget.
Since 2005, “we have steadily been reducing the percent increase of tuition per year,” said Vice President and Treasurer Fred Rogers. “Over the last four years, we have seen a leveling off of the rise of tuition to between three and four percent each year.”
Prior to 2005, the percent increase each year was erratic. For instance in 1990, the tuition increased 11.3 percent, while the following year, it increased 7.7 percent.
Carleton’s tuition increases annually because of inflation and because “everyone is always trying to get Carleton to be better through initiatives like better technology, the Weitz Center for Creativity, and the Facilities Master Plan,” Rogers said.
The comprehensive fee does not cover the cost of a Carleton education, so it is subsidized with endowments and gifts. Since 2005, tuition has gone up from 60 to 65 percent of the actual cost per student. This percent varies from year to year depending on the money available, according to Rogers.
To set the tuition, the Budget Committee looks at the long-term impact of recommendations by making five-year projections and by meeting with various offices and committees to discussion key issues.
According to Budget Committee Chair Bev Nagel, “We aim to develop a balanced budget that best enables us to achieve our mission of delivering a top-notch liberal arts education.”
During Budget Committee meetings, members emphasize discussion of the comprehensive fee because they recognize its importance to students, she said.
“We look at the impact of different fee structures on balancing both the budget for the upcoming year that we will propose to College Council and on the longer-term budget projections.”
Similarly, Aun Hussain ’14, who is a student representative on the Budget Committee and on the College Council, said that the Committee “looks at a number of factors. It is a very exhaustive process that leaves no stones unturned.”
After looking at what the college currently funds and proposed plans for future spending, “we decide upon what would be the best price of tuition based on what we believe will allow us to continue offering the educational experience that Carleton provides,” Hussain said.
After examining all of Carleton’s costs, the Budget Committee makes a budget proposal to the College Council in January. If this proposal is accepted, it goes to the Board of Trustees. Once the Trustees approve, the budget is implemented.
Rogers stressed that the Budget Committee “is very respectful of students, so there is a constant energy to do whatever we can do to serve students better. This requires a balance between what we can do with the money we have and with the budget constraints we have.”