Tuition increase lower than average


    By Annette Hess

    BYU has announced a tuition increase of $45 for the Fall 2003-2004 school year, but the increase is minor compared to that at other universities, said Brian Evans, chief financial officer for BYU.

    “The thing that”s powerful is to know that our sponsor is consistently there with us,” Evans said. “The church is not really subject to the whims of politics or economics or whatever, but they”re committed to this place. That”s what allows us to run efficiently and make sure we can meet our goals.”

    For instate enrollment of 15 credits or more, Utah State University is raising tuition $118 from $1,417 to $1,535, a 7.5 percent increase for the 2003-2004 school year. The University of Utah is increasing tuition $161 from $1,662 to $1,823, a 9.7 percent increase. Weber State University is raising $103 from $1,213 to $1,316, an 8.5 percent increase.

    BYU will increase 2003-2004 tuition from $1,530 to $1,575 for LDS students and $2,300 to $2,370 for non-LDS students. That amounts to a 2.9 percent increase.

    The estimated price of tuition is carefully determined by the administration, but at BYU, the Board of Trustees has the final say. The Board of Trustees consists of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the General Young Women president and the General Relief Society president.

    More than 27,000 undergraduate students attended BYU fulltime during the Winter Semester of 2003. Tuition compiled for the students exceeded $42.2 million.

    Evans said consistency was the key to keeping tuition increases low. Through careful resource planning, each department decides how much funding it needs. The dean of each department then looks over the department and prioritizes the greater needs. Those needs are submitted and an estimate of the tuition price is derived.

    “We determine what we think is a reasonable amount for an increase in tuition that year,” Evans said. “Then in many ways, its back to the trustees who say, ”That number doesn”t feel right; we feel that this number is more appropriate.” So it”s kind of the president and the president”s council working in conjunction with the Board of Trustees.”

    Most private universities use payouts from a large trust to provide funding. Public colleges are very reliant on state legislatures for their funding, and when there is a cut in the legislature, students often have to make up the difference.

    “It really blesses (the students”) lives, and it”s good for us because the only thing worse than not having adequate funding is not knowing what funding you”re going to have,” Evans said. “The church is so consistent. It makes our planning really predictable and makes us able to do what we say we”re going to do.”

    An article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education on May 9 notes that most schools are increasing their tuition by more than the rate of inflation. The University of Denver, a private school, is increasing tuition and fees by 6.3 percent. Public schools are also raising tuition. In the next two years, Montana State University in Bozeman is tentatively raising tuition and fees by 24.5 percent.

    The rate of inflation on the Consumer Price Index rose 3 percent from March 2002 to March 2003. Because of the struggling economy, students are increasingly seeking national financial aide.

    The doctorate program at BYU was ranked on U.S. News and World Report”s list of great deals May 5. The university was No. 7 in the list for students with the lowest debt, and the average amount of debt per graduate was $11,591.

    Some students dread even the small increase of $45.

    “I think that the increase in tuition price is ridiculous,” said Mark Averett, a student from Northern California, majoring in Latin American studies. “However, I”ll happily pay it so that I can graduate in December, and I know that, really, when you think about it, BYU is a very inexpensive university since tithing funds supplement our tuition cost.”

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