Liebowitz announces raise in tuition rates
There will be a 3.75 percent increase in undergraduate comprehensive charges for the 2017 to 2018 academic year, University President Ronald Liebowitz announced in an email to students on Friday.
In his email, Liebowitz wrote that the Board of Trustees approved the increase during their meeting last week.
“The university’s trustees and I appreciate the significant investment you and your family are making in your future. While an increase is never welcome, it helps us maintain our standing as a top-tier university with global reach, attracting outstanding students such as you, and recruiting and retaining faculty who pursue learning and scholarship at the highest levels,” he wrote.
In an email to the Justice, Liebowitz wrote that the increased revenue will be directed at “institutional priorities,” including support for faculty, financial assistance for students in need and campus maintenance. “The university's budget must cover these activities, which are further impacted by compliance and regulatory costs on top of the typical inflationary factors,” he wrote.
According to the Brandeis website, a student who lives on campus can expect an estimated $67,925 in tuition and fees, with tuition alone making up $51,460 of that total. This estimate is based off of a basic double room and 12-meal plan. The total cost of tuition and fees for the 2016 to 2017 academic year was $65,469 under the same assumptions.
“While the tuition increase is larger than any of us would like, a review of other universities in the Boston area and peer institutions in other areas of the country shows us that tuition increases for 2017-18 are ranging from 3.3 percent to 4.5 percent, putting Brandeis in the lower-middle of that range,” Liebowitz wrote in his email to the Justice.
At a September 2016 presentation on the University’s finances, Liebowitz announced that the University’s current financial state is unsustainable, noting, “the status quo cannot persist,” according to a Sept. 27, 2016 Justice article.
The presentation — led by Kermit Daniel, an economist and consultant for the firm Incandescent — explained that the University has had to draw a larger-than-average amount from its endowment annually to cover the costs associated with maintaining campus infrastructure and programs, according to the article.
At the time, Liebowitz also suggested that the University would not rely on tuition increases to cover this deficit, writing in a statement provided to the Justice that there is “little more we could do to generate more revenue from tuition. Our annual increases need to be reduced over time, lest we price out too many excellent students from applying to Brandeis. Ideally, we need to reduce our dependency on tuition and reduce annual increases. That's a goal,” according to the article.
“I stand by my previous observation that our annual increases need to be reduced over time, and we must keep that goal in sight,” Liebowitz wrote in his email to the Justice. “I have also reported to the community over the past year the historical and ongoing challenges an institution of our size faces as both a top-rated research university and exceptional, relatively small liberal arts college.”
However, efforts to increase the University’s endowment and reduce its costs will be a multi-year effort, Liebowitz acknowledged. “We have taken a deep dive into the financial health and structure of the university and have begun a process for addressing, over time, the financial stresses we have faced to ensure the long-term health of the institution,” he wrote.
Liebowitz added that this process will require continual and increased “philanthropy and alumni engagement,” which are “fundamental to reducing our dependency on tuition and annual increases.”
The Board of Trustees previously authorized a 3.9 percent increase in comprehensive charges for the 2016 to 2017 academic year.
At the time, then-Interim University President Lisa Lynch wrote in an email to students that the increased funds would go to four “essential initiatives” in order to ensure that students “have access to enriching college experiences,” according to an April 5, 2016 Justice article.
Lynch wrote that the revenue went toward hiring more faculty, infrastructure work around campus, the hiring of a chief diversity officer and “sexual assault awareness, prevention and support services,” according to the Justice article.
Liebowitz concluded his email to the student body by noting that he is “more and more impressed and inspired by Brandeis students” each day since taking office on July 1, 2016. “I am reminded that it is your intellect, passion, energy, and caring for one another and the world that fuels our dedication to strengthening the quality of your education,” he wrote.