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Student costs to increase next year

By Robyn Spector
On April 3, 2012

The University administration announced yesterday that the Board of Trustees approved the budget for fiscal 2013, which includes a 4.1 percent total cost hike for current students and a reduced size for the class of 2016 to between 800 and 820 students. Financial aid will also increase by seven percent, or $5.5 million.

Other changes include offering new first-year living options and new first-year seminars, improving campus resources such as advising and career counseling, and supplementing Library and Technology Services and the Rose Art Museum.

Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel emailed the student body last night about the changes to the $306.7 million budget.

"Chief among this year's concerns was moderating the growth of our student body, both lowering the size of select classes and decreasing the number of incoming first-year students," he wrote.

To meet these goals, the full price tag for most Brandeis undergraduates-the cost of tuition, room, board and fees-will rise to $56,022. Total cost for new students will be even higher, at a 4.85 percent increase, or $56,407.

The tuition disparity between new and current students is to accommodate families who have already created a financial plan and are committed to the University, explained Flagel. "It was something we could do for our continuing students that could help ease the challenges for them [of increasing costs]."

Within the national climate of growing higher education costs, the University is still mid-range in comparison to other colleges, according to Flagel.

In an interview with the Justice, Student Union President Herbie Rosen '12 acknowledged the transparency of the administration but said that "it's unsettling that the University is relying on our tuition for prior financial situations," like the renovations of the Rose Art Museum and the Joseph M. Linsey Pool.

Flagel also spoke about the budget adjustments the Board had to make for next year to ensure that it "preserve the character of the University" in the face of the University's growing student body and University endowment. The total amount of need-blind/full-need financial aid to be offered for the 2012-2013 academic year, to respond to the increased costs and keep Brandeis accessible, according to Flagel, will amount to $86.5 million.

Flagel said that the updated budget will pull from endowment revenues, though there was caution issued in the allocations. "What we're able to do with some of the changes is make some alterations both in terms of revenue from the endowment and student revenue that permit the kinds of investments you see" in the other budget changes.

While tuition rises, Flagel projects next year's first-year class size to be between 800 and 820 students, less than last year's 858, which was the largest in University history, according to BrandeisNOW.

Flagel said that the goal is to increase the undergraduate student population to 3,600 by next year, a slight increase from the current 3,319, according to the admissions website.

Along with reducing the goal for the incoming first-year class, the Board approved limits on select course sizes and provided the finances to offer more sections for some language classes.

Provost Steve Goldstein '78 said in an interview with the Justice, "There is good, strong evidence that the strongest way to teach language classes is in small sizes. ... What we wanted to do was aggressively push the classes down in size so that they were in the range of 18 students or less."

Library and Technology Services is also receiving more funding for "library collections and subject area librarians; information security; overdue computer refresh and classroom equipment renewals across campus; upgrades to the campus learning management system; data warehousing; and efforts to protect unique archival and special collections from environmental damage," according to BrandeisNOW.

The Board also approved more funds for academic advisers. "What we were particularly anxious to do was make sure there were enough staff members so that the students would have ready access," said Goldstein.

As part of the Board's goal to address the central aspects of student experience on campus, the budget incorporated a new "Living Learning Community" option for first-year students.

The program is designed around common academic and cocurricular interests.

Professors will also be involved in the residential community, and "Ph.D. teaching assistants will be hired to facilitate faculty involvement," Flagel explained."The working titles for each community are 'Media, Politics and Society' and 'Global Connections.' "

Dean of Arts and Sciences Susan Birren wrote in an email to the Justice that the University will also introduce first-year seminars titled JustBooks. "These small seminars will engage students in humanist inquiry and will honor the university's focus on social justice," she wrote.

The Board also approved additional funds for the Rose Art Museum. Goldstein said the "re-energization of the Rose" would give additional funding to support the educational programming and maintenance of the museum for students and faculty.

Frances Drolette, senior vice president for finance and chief financial officer, said: "The spending plan is a cautious reflection of the improved financial climate, the desire to fund some immediate priorities that align with the university's values and mission, and a recognition that other initiatives will await the results of the ongoing strategic planning effort," according to BrandeisNOW.

All changes will be enacted on July 1, 2012, according to BrandeisNOW.

-Alana Abramson, Sara Dejene and Sam Mintz contributed reporting. 


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