Costs for students to rise by 3.9 percent next semester
In an email to the student body last Friday, Interim University President Lisa Lynch announced a 3.9 percent increase in comprehensive undergraduate charges for the 2016 to 2017 academic year. This increase was approved by the Board of Trustees on Thursday to allow the University to maintain its “commitment to providing you [the students] with an education of the highest quality” and to “sustain the financial aid that makes Brandeis accessible to students across the socioeconomic spectrum,” according to the email.
Undergraduate comprehensive charges for the 2015 to 2016 academic year totaled $63,012, assuming basic double occupancy and a 12-meal plan. With the 3.9 percent increase, the comprehensive charges will be $65,469 for 2016 to 2017, under the same assumptions. Comprehensive charges includes tuition, all undergraduate and student fees, room and board.
Interim Senior Vice President for Communications Judy Glasser clarified in an email to the Justice that while all tuition and fees are increasing by 3.9 percent, “housing and dining increases vary by plan and housing area. Of the two dining plans available to upperclass students with kitchens, for instance, one is staying at the same rate while the other is actually decreasing, despite cost to the university, to try and better align with students’ financial needs.”
Lynch’s email outlined the four most “essential initiatives” to which these funds would be directed in an effort to ensure that students “have access to enriching college experiences.” These are the hiring of “17 new tenured, tenure-track and other full-time faculty members”; “infrastructure work across campus, including over $2 million in sustainability efforts and renovation projects at the East Quad residence halls”; an increase in spending on “initiatives regarding sexual-assault awareness, prevention and support services” to $750,000; and the creation of a Chief Diversity Officer position.
The additional revenue for the University stemming from this increase would be approximately $7.22 million, just from tuition and fees alone. With 72 percent of the undergraduate population residing in University housing, the incremental revenue from room and board (assuming basic doubles and a 12-meal plan) would be approximately $1.39 million. All these figures are subject to the size of the incoming class being consistent with the size of the outgoing class.
The University routinely increases its comprehensive charges. The charges for the current academic year reflect a 3.7 percent increase over the previous academic year’s charges. According to the University’s financial statements, their 2014 to 2015 revenues from tuition and fees increased by $13.3 million as compared to the 2013 to 2014 year. Similarly, their revenues from room and board increased by $2.1 million. These increases reflect a 3.7 percent increase on the 2013 to 2014 charges, as well as an increase in enrollment, among other factors.
In her email, Lynch explained that the 17 new faculty members will fill positions within the areas of the “humanities, the sciences, the social sciences, the creative arts and business.” She added that the hiring of 17 new faculty members will go a long way in maintaining and improving the student-to-faculty ratio, “which is fundamental to providing an education that is vibrant, engaging and intellectually challenging.”
Glasser added in her email to the Justice that “while the number of new faculty may seem large, it is actually fairly typical, as some of these hires are replacements for faculty who have retired or left the university.” According to Glasser, “the areas of focus for faculty hiring for the next academic year are classics (Greek language and lit), economics, NEJS (Hebrew Bible), math (algebra and analysis), early American history, musicology, developmental psychology, sociology (social movements), molecular and cellular biology, AAAS/Politics (race and politics), and IBS (finance). In addition, there will be new faculty who will be hired to teach individual courses.” The new Chief Diversity Officer, who will likely be appointed this summer, will be involved in the hiring process for these 17 new faculty members in the University’s endeavor to “increase the number of traditionally underrepresented students, faculty and staff, as well as to ensure a more inclusive campus that supports all its members.”
Investments on campus infrastructure include a renovation of the East Quad residence halls that is estimated to cost over $2 million, according to Lynch’s email. In addition to refurbishing the structures, this will further the University’s sustainability efforts. Specifically, the University plans to install new roofs and more modern and efficient window systems in East, according to Glasser. She wrote that beyond East Quad, the University “will also be replacing parts of the underground steam distribution system, repaving some campus walkways and driveways, and repaving some parking areas as well, including most notably the Tower lot.” Additionally, the University’s “planned building project on the Castle site, which will add critically needed new on-campus housing, also begins next year,” according to Lynch. This project will also require substantial funds to complete.
The investments north of $750,000 into sexual-assault awareness, prevention and support services “includes financial support for training, education and support services, as outlined in reports to the community from the Task Force for Sexual Assault Response, Services and Prevention. The budget also includes additions to staff and cost of investigations,” according to Glasser.