College cuts costs, students’ fees rise by nearly 3 percent
Last week, in an email to the entire student body, President David Anderson ’74 announced a 2.69 percent increase in next year’s comprehensive fee.
This increase will be the smallest in 40 years. However, the national average increase for college tuition is 5.4 percent.
Several forces drove this increase and the administration managed to keep the rising cost well below the national average of other private colleges.
The Obama Administration has crusaded for affordability in higher education by expanding grant aid and college tax credits.
In President Obama’s most recent State of the Union address, he said that there is a “shared responsibility by federal government, states, colleges and universities to promote access and affordability in higher education by reining in college costs, providing value and preparing students with a solid education.”
Currently, the federal government awards about $178 billion in grants and other subsidies to open access to higher education.
Provost and Dean of the College Marci Sortor said that the main driving forces behind the increase are inflation, health care costs and energy.
The college maintains a strong commitment to those who support and teach in the St. Olaf community. Therefore, increasing health costs will increase the overall cost of tuition.
The cost of energy, cooling, heating and lighting of campus can spike. Additionally, licenses, subscriptions to journals and databases, technologies and the cost of off-campus study programs can rise above the overall inflation rate.
To keep costs low, the college employs a mix of strategies. Sortor explained, “We try to increase revenues. In the academic area we apply for government and foundation grants, offer summer school and camps and reachout to donors who want to support students through scholarships or contributions to the academic program.”
Each year, the college re-examines programs to see the correlation with current goals in providing a first-rate education.
This next year will approach the budget with the inclusion of cost-saving measures in printing and food.
Sortor explained three broad reasons for increasing tuition: external forces, student need and rising expectations.
External forces include government regulations, reporting, compliance and other necessary measures that do not pertain to fulfilling St. Olaf’s mission.
Student need pertains, in part, to academic necessities and can include new classes or increased resources. High and rising expectations is straightforward: The college is devoted to providing a world-class education to its students.
New programs, such as the new Arabic and Italian alternate language courses, provide additional opportunities for students.
College costs increase every year and are as certain as death and taxes. But St. Olaf works as hard as it can to give students the best return on their investment possible, as evidenced by the lower tuition increase relative to its peer colleges.