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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Tuition increase to cover health care costs, financial aid

<ost of attending Carleton will increase for the 2017-18 school to $66,414 per year, up $2,343 from the 2016-17 school year. The higher costs are primarily due to faculty compensation increases and higher average financial aid.

The $2,343, or 3.5% increase in the comprehensive fee is higher than the current 2.7% inflation rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Increased health care costs for college staff and faculty, along with a competitive market for faculty, spurred the need to raise tuition and fees for next year. The comprehensive fee is the combination of tuition, room, board and the student activity fee.

“The big challenge we have right now is salaries,” said Fred Rogers, Vice President and Treasurer. “The salaries are going up at about the rate of the comprehensive fee. This makes it very challenging to keep this whole thing in balance.”

Rogers said that the current competitive market for faculty requires higher and higher compensation each year. The Budget Committee compensates staff and faculty at a similar level to Carleton’s peer institutions. The Budget Committee must also be competitive with its starting offers to new faculty.

Beverly Nagel ’75, dean of the college and chair of the Budget Committee, said the college must make offers that will attract talented faculty that all the other schools want as well.

“You want to get the candidates you want, which are often the ones that our peer competitors among liberal arts schools are trying to hire,” said Nagel. “What we’re looking to do is make sure that we’re competitive and that we can get the faculty we want and retain them.”

In an effort to increase financial aid spending, faculty compensation has increased more modestly than in previous years’ budgets. Compensation for faculty and staff increased at about the same rate as the comprehensive fee, or around 3%. Financial aid spending, however, will increase 7.2% for the 2017-18 school year.

In the past, financial aid spending was allowed to increase only at the rate the comprehensive fee increased. The Board of Trustees lifted this restriction two years ago, so financial aid spending has started to increase more rapidly.

“We look every year very, very hard at financial aid,” said Nagel. “And so we have been increasing the financial aid budget more rapidly than the comprehensive fee has gone up in an effort to maintain the kind of socioeconomic diversity we want to see in our student body.”

Dean Nagel said that yearly increases in the comprehensive fee are not sufficient to meet the college’s goals on financial aid. As a result, the college is currently preparing for a fundraising campaign, according to Nagel. This fundraising campaign will raise funds for the building construction projects, but there will also be a strong push to raise money for financial aid. A $20 million gift from the Weitz family for financial aid will held toward this effort.

“It’s just a brute economic issue for us of how much we can afford to provide more support to students,” said Rogers. “Over half our students are on aid, so if that could go up, I think people would like that.”

The endowment, which is one of the most important sources of funding for financial aid and salaries, has underperformed the last two years. In 2016, the endowment was $738 million, down from $793 million in 2014. This puts a crunch on the funding available for financial aid. Alumni donations are also not
increasing at the desired rate, according to Rogers.

The current strategic plan set a no-growth objective, meaning the college intends to keep the student body at the same size. It also intends to keep student, faculty and staff ratios the same. In the future, the comprehensive fee will likely continue to increase each year. It has increased every year that Carleton has existed, according to Rogers.

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